Advertisement

Hospitality or hostility?

Explaining the German and U.S. Responses to the Syrian Refugee Crisis
  • Polly J. DivenEmail author
  • Stefan Immerfall
Aufsätze
  • 1.2k Downloads

Abstract

Since the beginning of the Syrian Civil War in 2011, approximately five million refugees have fled their homeland. By 2017, Germany had accepted over half a million refugees from Syria; in stark contrast, the U.S. had allowed approximately 10,000 Syrian refugees to enter. What are the factors that explain why some countries are more open to refugees than others? This article compares German and U.S. responses to the Syrian refugee crisis, placing the differing responses in their historical, cultural, political, and institutional contexts. While acknowledging that proximity matters, the authors argue that several other factors are more important to explain the gulf between the German and U.S. response. One key variable is the extent to which policy-making is embedded in an international context. Given the fact that Germany’s refugee policy is couched within the EU, it is less volatile and more likely to reflect international norms. This applies, contrary to first impression, to chancellor Merkel’s open door policy of September 2015 as well. By contrast, U.S. refugee policy is more subject to political interests and trends. In addition, the critical juncture literature is applied to explain how the U.S. has, after the 9/11/2001 attacks, dramatically altered refugee policy to reflect public opinion and public concerns about national security.

Keywords

Refugee crisis Asylum policy Critical juncture Policy response Historical institutionalism 

Grenzöffnung oder Obergrenze?

Ein Vergleich der deutschen und amerikanischen Reaktion auf die syrische Flüchtlingskrise

Zusammenfassung

Seit Beginn des Bürgerkriegs 2011 sind mehr als 5 Mio. Syrer aus dem Land geflohen. Bis Ende 2016 hat Deutschland mehr als eine halbe Millionen syrischer Flüchtlinge aufgenommen, die USA nicht mehr als 10.000. Warum sind einige Länder offener gegenüber Flüchtlinge als andere? Der Beitrag vergleicht die deutsche mit der amerikanischen politischen Reaktion auf die syrische Flüchtlingskrise in ihren historischen, kulturellen, politischen und institutionellen Kontexten. Sicherlich spielt die Geographie eine Rolle, jedoch eine gegenüber Faktoren untergeordnete. Eine Schlüsselvariable ist das Ausmaß, in dem Politikmuster in den internationalen Kontext eingebettet sind. Die deutsche Politik ist fest in der EU verankert und respektiert internationale Rechtsnomen. Beides trägt dazu bei, dass sie weniger volatil ist. In diese Pfadabhängigkeit ordnet sich, entgegen erstem Anschein, auch die Grenzöffnung im September 2015 ein. Im Gegensatz dazu spiegelt die amerikanische Asylpolitik stärker politische Interessen und Trends wider. Darüber hinaus wird erörtert, ob mit den Anschlägen vom 11. September 2001 ein kritische Weichenstellung in der amerikanischen Flüchtlingspolitik verbunden. Dies kann, mit Blick auf die Besorgnis der Öffentlichkeit über die nationale Sicherheit, bejaht werden.

Schlüsselwörter

Flüchtlingskrise Asyl Pfadabhängigkeit Politische Antwort Historischer Institutionalismus 

Notes

Acknowledgements

The authors wish to thank Eva-Maria Euchner, Gwendolyn Sasse and two anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments. The second author also thanks the “Tuesday seminar” at ARENA, Oslo University.

References

  1. Amnesty International. 2016. Refugees Welcome Index shows government refugees policy out of touch with public opinion. https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2016/05/refugees-welcome-index-shows-government-refugee-policies-out-of-touch/ (Created 16 May 2016). Accessed 25 Sept 2016.Google Scholar
  2. Avdan, Nazli. 2014. Do asylum recognition rates in Europe respond to transnational terrorism? The migration-security nexus revisited. European Union Politics 15(4):445–471.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Black, Richard. 2001. Fifty years of refugee studies: from theory to policy. Immigration Migration Review 35(1):57–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bloemraad, Irene. 2006. Becoming a citizen. Berkely: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  5. Blume, Georg, et al. 2016. Grenzöffnung für Flüchtlinge: Was geschah wirklich? DIE ZEIT Nr. 35/2016, 18. August 2016. http://www.zeit.de/2016/35/grenzoeffnung-fluechtlinge-september-2015-wochenende-angela-merkel-ungarn-oesterreich/komplettansicht.Google Scholar
  6. Bosswick, Wolfgang. 2000. Development of asylum policy in Germany. Journal of Refugee Studies 13(1):43–60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Campi, Alicia. 2005. From refugees to Americans. The immigration policy center. https://www.ilw.com/articles/2006,0313-campi.shtm. Accessed 22 Sept 2016.Google Scholar
  8. Capoccia, Giovanni, and R.D. Kelemen. 2007. The study of critical junctures. Theory, narrative, and counterfactuals in historical institutionalism. World Politics 59(03):341–369.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Checkel, Jeffrey T. 1999. Norms, institutions, and national identity in contemporary europe. International Studies Quarterly 43(1):84–114.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Congressional Digest, January. 2016. Refugee resettlement: weighing humanitarian and domestic security concerns. http://congressionaldigest.com/issue/refugee-resettlement/history-of-refugee-resettlement-in-america/#gsc.tab=0. Accessed 22 Sept 2016.Google Scholar
  11. Crage, Suzanna. 2016. The more things change … developments in German practices towards asylum seekers and recognised refugees. German Politics 25(3):344–365.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Dalglish, Carol. 1989. Refugees from Vietnam. New York: Palgrave-MacMillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. D’Appollonia, Ariane Chebel. 2012. Frontiers of fear: immigration and insecurity in the United States and Europe. Ithaca London: Cornell University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Dustmann, Christian. 1996. Return migration: the European experience. Economic Policy 11(22):213–250.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Gallup Polls. 2016. Islamophobia: understanding anti-muslim sentiment in the west. http://www.gallup.com/poll/157082/islamophobia-understanding-anti-muslim-sentiment-west.aspx. Accessed 25 Sept 2016.Google Scholar
  16. Gallup Polls. 2017. About half of Americans say Trump is moving too fast. http://www.gallup.com/poll/203264/half-americans-say-trump-moving-fast.aspx. Accessed 2 Mar 2017.Google Scholar
  17. Galston, William. 2015. Brookings institution report: What Americans think about the Syrian refugee crisis. http://www.brookings.edu/blogs/markaz/posts/2015/09/30-american-voters-syrian-refugee-crisis-galston. Accessed 20 June 2016.Google Scholar
  18. Garza, Frida. 2015. Germany is taking in more refugees in 2015. http://qz.com/567469/germany-is-taking-in-more-refugees-in-2015-than-the-us-has-in-the-past-10-years/. Accessed 20 Sept 2016.Google Scholar
  19. Gavigan, Patrick. 1997. Migration emergencies and human rights in Haiti. Organization of American States. http://www.oas.org/juridico/english/gavigane.html. Accessed 20 June 2016.Google Scholar
  20. Gerhards, Jürgen, Silke Hans, and Jürgen Schupp. 2016. Einstellungen der BürgerInnen in Deutschland zur Aufnahme von Geflüchteten. DIW-Wochenberich: Wirtschaft, Politik, Wissenschaft 83(21):467–473.Google Scholar
  21. Glynn, Irial. 2016. Asylum policy, boat people and political discourse. London: Palgrave MacMillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Green, Simon. 2013. Germany: a changing country of immigration. German Politics 22(3):333–351.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Green, Simon, and William E. Paterson (eds.). 2005. Governance in contemporary Germany: the semi sovereign state revisited. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  24. Greiner, Bernd. 2016. United States of Angst. Donald Trump und der Extremismus der Mitte. Blätter für deutsche und internationale Politik 61(9):43–50.Google Scholar
  25. Hamlin, Rebecca. 2014. Let me be a refugee: administrative justice and the politics of asylum in the united States, Canada, and Australia. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Kaunert, Christian, and Sarah Léonard. 2012. The development of the EU asylum policy. Venue-shopping in perspective. Journal of European Public Policy 19(9):1396–1413.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Kingdon, John W. 1995. Agendas, alternatives, and public policies, 2nd edn., New York: Longman.Google Scholar
  28. Kopicki, Allison, John Lapinski, and Hanna Hartig. 2015. NBC news poll: a majority of Americans oppose accepting Syrian refugees. http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/politics-news/poll-majority-americans-oppose-accepting-syrian-refugees-n465816 (Created 18 Nov 2015). Accessed 20 Sept 2016.Google Scholar
  29. Krogstad, Jens Manuel and Jynnah Radford. 2017. Key facts about refugees to the U.S. Pew Research Reports, Fact Tank. http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/01/30/key-facts-about-refugees-to-the-u-s/ (Created 17 Jan 2017). Accessed 1 Mar 2017.Google Scholar
  30. Lau, Miriam. 2016. Dieser Mann hat für Angela Merkel den Flüchtlingsdeal erfunden. ZEIT ONLINE, 7. Juli 2016. http://www.zeit.de/2016/27/gerald-knaus-fluechtlinge-eu-tuerkei-abkommen.Google Scholar
  31. Lesser, Ian. 2015. The refugee crisis: perspectives from across Europe and the Atlantic. Policy brief. Washington, DC: German Marshall Fund. http://www.gmfus.org/file/6684/download. Accessed 20 Sept 2016.Google Scholar
  32. Löwenstein, Stephan, and Eckart Lohse. 2016. Überollt. Frankfurter Allgemein Zeitung vom 3. September 2016., 3.Google Scholar
  33. Luft, Stefan. 2016. Steuerung und Begrenzung? Warum sich liberale Rechtsstaaten schwertun, Migration zu regulieren. In Begrenzt verantwortlich? Sozialethische Positionen in der Flüchtlingskrise, ed. Marianne Heimbach-Steins, 122–133. Freiburg: Herder.Google Scholar
  34. Mahoney, James, and Kathleen A. Thelen (eds.). 2015. Advances in comparative-historical analysis. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  35. Mathews, Julie. 2013. Refugee policy: a highly charged political issue. Social Alternatives 32(3):3–6.Google Scholar
  36. Musalo, Karen, Jennifer Moore, and Richard A. Boswell. 2011. Refugee law and policy: a comparative and international approach, 4th edn., Durham: Carolina Academic Press.Google Scholar
  37. Nail, Thomas. 2016. A tale of two crises: migration and terrorism after the paris attacks. Studies in Ethnicity and Nationalism 16(1):158–167.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Neumayer, Eric. 2004. Asylum destination choice what makes some west European countries more attractive than others? European Union Politics 5(2):155–180.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Ostrand, Nicole. 2015. The Syrian refugee crisis: a comparison of responses by Germany, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Journal on Migration and Human Security 3(3):255–279.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Outram, Quentin. 1998. The lessons of Liberia: an analysis of the Liberian CPE 1989–1997. A report commissioned by the Department for International Development. London: DRID.Google Scholar
  41. Peters, B.G., and Philippe Zittoun (eds.). 2016. Contemporary approaches to public policy. Theories, controversies and perspectives. London: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  42. Pierson, Paul. 2004. Politics in time. History, institutions, and social analysis. Princeton: Princeton University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Renwick, Danielle. 2015. The U.S. immigration debate, Council on Foreign Relations Backgrounder. http://www.cfr.org/immigration/us-immigration-debate/p11149. Accessed 15 June 2016.Google Scholar
  44. Rosenthal, Max J.September. 2015. American once accepted 800,000 war refugees. Is it time to do that again? Mother Jones. http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/09/syria-refugees-europe-vietnam. Accessed 15 June 2016.Google Scholar
  45. Rothman, Lily. 2015. The U.S. can handle much more than 10,000 Syrian refugees. Time Magazine. http://time.com/4034925/vietnamese-refugees-united-states-history/. Accessed 20 June 2016.Google Scholar
  46. Rüb, Friedbert W. (ed.). 2014. Rapide Politikwechsel in der Bundesrepublik. Theoretischer Rahmen und empirische Befunde. Baden-Baden: Nomos.Google Scholar
  47. Sabatier, Paul A., and Christopher M. Weible (eds.). 2014. Theories of the policy process, 3rd edn., Boulder: Westview Press.Google Scholar
  48. Salhani, J. (2015). Trump’s Muslim Ban Is Exactly What ISIS Wants. Think Progress.Google Scholar
  49. Schmidt, M.G. 2016. Das politische System Deutschlands: Institutionen, Willensbildung und Politikfelder, 3rd edn., München: C. H. Beck.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Schuster, Liza. 2000. A comparative analysis of the asylum policy of seven European governments. Journal of Refugee Studies 13:118–132.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Smith, J.C. 2008. The Hmong: an annotated bibliography, 1983–1987. Minneapolis: Southeast Asian Refugee Studies Project.Google Scholar
  52. Spiegel Staff. 2016. The makings of Merkel’s decision to accept refugees. Spiegel Online International, August 24, 2016. http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/a-look-back-at-the-refugee-crisis-one-year-later-a-1107986.html.Google Scholar
  53. Triadafilopoulos, Phil, and Karen Schönwälder. 2006. How the federal republic became an immigration country. Norms, politics and the failure of west Germany’s guest worker system. German Politics and Society 24(3):1–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. U.S. Department of State. 2016. U.S. refugee admissions program. http://www.state.gov/j/prm/ra/admissions/index.htm. Accessed 29 Oct 2016.Google Scholar
  55. United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). 2015. Children on the run. http://www.unhcr.org/56fc266f4.html. Accessed 20 June 2016.Google Scholar
  56. United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). 2016. Syrian refugee regional response report. http://data.unhcr.org/regional.php. Accessed 24 June 2016.Google Scholar
  57. Van Selm, Joanne. 2000. Kosovo’s refugees in the European Union. London, New York: Pinter.Google Scholar
  58. Waibsnaider, Meital. 2006. How national self-interest and foreign policy continue to influence the U.S. refugee admissions program. Fordham Law Review 75(1):391–426.Google Scholar
  59. Yoo, Eunhye, and Jeong-Woo Koo. 2014. Love thy neighbor. Explaining asylum seeking and hosting, 1982–2008. International Journal of Comparative Sociology 55(1):45–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Zahariadis, Nikolaos. 2014. Ambiguity and multiple streams. In Theories of the policy process, ed. Paul A. Sabatier, Christopher M. Weible, 25–58. Boulder: Westview Press.Google Scholar
  61. Zohlnhöfer, Reimut. 2016. Putting together the pieces of the puzzle. Explaining German labor market reforms with a modified multiple-streams approach. Policy Studies Journal 44(1):83–107.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Zucker, Norman L., and Naomi Flint Zucker. 1996. Desperate crossings: seeking refuge in america. London: Routledge Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden GmbH, ein Teil von Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.International RelationsGrand Valley State UniversityAllendaleUSA
  2. 2.Abteilung für SoziologiePHSG Pädagogische Hochschule Schwäbisch GmündSchwäbisch GmündGermany

Personalised recommendations