Deep within the Basic Law of Germany (the Constitution)....there is section 16, which covers the right of asylum for any member of the EU, and all other countries. It is roughly 40 lines of legal wording which is defined by the political system to mean that you can apply for asylum as you fly into Germany, or after the fact.
Up until this 2013-era where immigration became a major topic of discussion....no one really harped on paragraph 16 or the definition of asylum application. On average, Germany for a number of years averaged around 250,000 to 300,000 folks who applied for the asylum deal. No one says much over each year's applicants and who passed or failed. There are a couple of years....like the Balkan War period, where the applications went up to 800,000 to 900,000 people seeking asylum. But the average tended to stay at 250,000.
The structure around the asylum procedure? Various temporary facilities existed and were immigration or asylum centers. You'd be brought into these, and apply. Your application typically took six week to review, and approve or disapprove. Most all of the structure was set to the 250,000 number, and Germans were capable of handling that in a normal year.
So when 2013 came, with the Syrian war, and various other groups from around the globe saw an open door in Germany.....the number went from 250,000 to 450,000 (2014) very easily. In 2015, the Germans originally said 1.1 million entered....later lessening the official number down to roughly 900,000 (don't ask them why the original number was thrown). For 2016....the number so far appears to be in the 300,000 to 350,000 range, but it may be lessened later as well.
What has arisen as a topic of discussion is that the paragraph 16 situation of the Basic Law does not have a limit (per year, let's say). A fair number of Germans (maybe more than a quarter of the population) now believe that the country does have a limit and there can't be an unlimited number to paragraph 16.
Changing the paragraph? It's something that the CDU, SPD, Green Party, and Linke Party refuse to really discuss. Even Chancellor Merkel has no desire to rewrite paragraph 16. The AfD Party? In their mind, no real change to Germany's immigration problem can occur or repair the problems, UNTIL you discuss and implement some change to paragraph 16, and insert a yearly limit.
The CSU Party out of Bavaria....the partner to Merkel's party? They'd like the 250,000 number to be inserted, and hint that if something doesn't occur with a limit.....they won't go with a consolidated vote deal with Merkel. She can still win without them....but the formation of the next government would create some interesting scenarios....none really positive.
You would think that some think-tank or university would sit down....analyze unemployment numbers, GDP, housing issues, impact of integration, and the economy.....to arrive at some magic number which would make sense to the intellectual crowd (the politicians and journalists). But no.....they don't seem to want to analyze that type of problem. One can only wonder why.
I sat this week and noted a number of televised (ARD) interviews conducted with locals in North Rhine Westphalia (NRW, northwest Germany). A lot of towns in this region have large significant numbers of immigrants that have flowed in. They also have unemployment numbers going from ten to fourteen percent. It's not spoken by the journalists, but you'd have the impression that no more additional migrants ought to be settled in this state of Germany for the next couple of years, until jobs start to appear.
One of the odd things that AfD is apparently doing as a platform item for the upcoming campaign period and election? Well....they want to talk about paragraph 16. They want to make it a daily topic and ensure that Germans read the paragraph and decide for themselves....if to press for the change.
Journalists could for the most part avoid chatting about paragraph 16, and just figure a couple of mentions via debates will be the most damage done. That tactic would work in a normal election year, prior to the internet. With Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter? Well....an orchestrated effort could bring that topic to twenty million Germans very easily. The chief question would be....who would blink first....Chancellor Merkel (CDU) or Martin Schultz (the new SPD Chancellor candidate)? Who would consume the bitter pill and acknowledge that a number will have to exist?
My bet is on Martin Schulz to suggest this. Oddly, he is a blunt and hard-core supporter of asylum and immigration....so there are literally hundreds of references of him speaking for migration and open-door access. It would look awful stupid....I admit, but if you really wanted to pick up ten percent of the vote over a very short period....some limit paragraph added to paragraph 16 would be a remarkable change for the whole situation.
My suggestion? I think the whole immigration thing ought to be divided into several categories. Category A would be for folks have trades, occupations, and degrees. If you have something to really offer Germany and it's economy....not just to flip burgers or stock shelves, then you ought to find a very accessible door. But it ought to be a case where you apply from your own country and face a eight-week review of your application. I might suggest in this case that a lot of educated Chinese or South Koreans might apply and shift things into a totally different direction.
I'd have other categories for Christians from Muslim countries, gays from oppressive societies, etc. But I'd limit this number each year....maybe 5,000. Maybe 10,000.
The war-time refugee crowd? I'd build up real long-term camps....fly the folks from their affected areas, and give them a two-year temp-visa.
For the large group of young men coming in with no real occupation or craft....I'd probably be blunt and just say that less than 5,000 a year would be accepted in this manner, and it serves no purpose to hike or walk to Germany.....if it's a 98-percent chance of failing the application process.
So as you sit and note political topics thrown left and right, and suddenly hear someone hyping up the Basic Law and paragraph 16.....you will understand the full discussion at hand. Some folks want it absolutely changed, and some folks want absolutely no change. Each will try to convince the public of the position.