Bavaria, Germany’s second most populous state, recently re-formed its previously dissolved border police. The Bavarian Grenzpolizei (German for “Border Police”) has been reconstituted in order to address crimes and immigration violations committed by the migrants currently flooding the Federal Republic of Germany.
Bavaria’s experience provides an object-lesson for left-leaning American politicians who are calling for the abolition of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement: Nation states must maintain the integrity of their borders but they also must enforce immigration laws against those apprehended in the interior of their territory. Otherwise, they send a clear message that once you dodge the border guards, all immigration law becomes meaningless.
Germany is a federal union. It is composed of individual states, and a federal government, each with enumerated powers. Germany’s post-war constitution vested all law enforcement in the individual states – including immigration enforcement. Accordingly, German state police forces, known as Landespolizei are responsible for undertaking those functions which would be performed in the U.S. by the federal Department of Homeland Security.
Bavaria, shares lengthy borders with Switzerland, Austria and the former Czech Republic. For many years it maintained a dedicated immigration police department. However, with the implementation of the Schengen Agreement, which eliminated border controls in the interior of the European Union (EU), most of Germany’s Landespolizei, including the Bavarian Grenzpolizei, found themselves engaging in fewer and fewer immigration policing tasks
As a result, the Bavarian Border Police was absorbed into Bavaria’s Landespolizei in 1998. The Landespolizei maintained a tiny immigration unit responsible mainly for liaising with the Bundesgrenschutz (BGS), Germany’s paramilitary, federal border guard.
In the Borderless European Union, why worry about immigration controls? Bavaria’s neighbors had all become members or affiliates of the EU and the state no longer had what Eurocrats refer to as an “external border.” (Then, in 2005, taking that theme to extremes, Germany converted the BGS from an immigration enforcement agency into the Bundespolizei, a general federal police force.)
However, in 2015-2016, Germany found itself overwhelmed by Middle Eastern, South Asian and African migrants seeking political stability and economic opportunity in the West. Despite concerns expressed by ordinary Germans, Chancellor Angela Merkel accepted over one million foreign nationals, most of whom lacked job skills, the ability to speak German, and any experience living in an advanced, industrial democracy.
Bavaria was particularly hard hit by the so-called “Migrant Crisis,” finding itself overrun with illegal aliens hoping to obtain asylum in Germany. And while the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees regularly denied asylum claims, it rarely worked with enforcement agencies to ensure the deportation of applicants who were refused relief.
In response, the Bavarian government took the eminently logical step of reconstituting the Bavarian Border Police. The force is responsible for patrolling the state’s lengthy borders with Austria, Switzerland and the Czech Republic, as well as a border zone that extends 30 kilometers into the interior. It also assists federal authorities with the deportation of those ordered removed from Germany.
The re-deployment of an immigration-specific law enforcement agency hasn’t ended Bavaria’s immigration problems. But it has improved them. And it demonstrated a firm commitment upon the part of Bavaria’s political leadership to fulfilling the first responsibilities of government – protecting citizens and maintaining public order.
Abolishing ICE is a foolish idea that would endanger the very citizens American political leaders are sworn to protect. And American politicians could learn a lot by observing their Bavarian counterparts.