America’s open border advocates need to take notes on this…Germany’s open-door policy to refugees appeared to be unravelling tonight following the country’s reinstatement of border controls to curb the overwhelming influx of migrants.
Europe’s top economy halted all trains from Austria and, in an historic move, temporarily suspended the open borders Schengen agreement in response to the arrival of tens of thousands of Syrian refugees in recent days.
The decision marks a dramatic shift away from the current abolishment of passport checks throughout Europe’s Schengen zone.
The Interior Minister did not specify how long the border controls would remain in place or give details of exactly how incoming migrants would be handled. He said there could be disruption to rail travel.
Most migrants have been arriving by train, with 800,000 in total expected to arrive this year.
Germany’s national railway, Deutsche Bahn, said it had halted service between Austria and Germany for 12 hours at authorities’ orders.
Tonight, officials were seen carrying out the first passport checks at the country’s border with Austria.
Three Syrian migrants were stopped at the Freilassing crossing and told to remain on the side of the road in the Bavarian commune close to Austria’s Salzburg, after German officers looked at their papers.
Mr de Maiziere’s announcement came on the eve of tomorrow’s meeting of EU interior ministers in Brussels, where European Commission proposals to redistribute about 160,000 asylum seekers across the bloc will be discussed.
But there are deep divisions between member states and no sign of a solution.
The Schengen agreement – allowing passport-free movement across much of the European continent – is now under real threat following Germany’s temporary opt-out, although the European Commission said rules do allow countries to reintroduce controls in exceptional circumstances.
In a statement the EU executive said: ‘The temporary reintroduction of border controls between member states is an exceptional possibility explicitly foreseen in and regulated by the Schengen Borders Code, in case of a crisis situation.
‘The current situation in Germany, prima facie, appears to be a situation covered by the rules.’
It added that the executive would keep the situation under review and said the aim would be to return to the normal situation of no border checks between member states of the Schengen zone ‘as soon as feasible’.
The European Commission added: ‘The German decision of today underlines the urgency to agree on the measures proposed by the European Commission in order to manage the refugee crisis.’
The Czech Republic also said it would boost controls on its border with Austria following Germany’s decision.
It is not yet clear exactly what the temporary measures include, but the move comes as German authorities have warned they are at ‘the limit’ in coping with the migrant crisis, with locals claiming Munich is on the brink of collapse.
German newspaper Bild cited security sources as saying the state government in Bavaria had asked the federal police to help deal with the task.
The newspaper said the federal police would send 2,100 officers to Bavaria to help it secure its borders.
Read more: Daily Mail