Migration as a Shared Challenge of Germany and the US

In 2020, the German Council on Foreign Affairs (under 35 section) selected me as one of its new fellows to work on political issues related to migration. I perform research, publish articles and participate in expert panels throughout the time of the fellowship.

Specifically, I attempt to map the differences and similarities of US and German migration policies. In light of the four-year-long Donald Trump presidency and the election of Joe Biden, the United States is at a crossroads when it comes to the country’s approach to immigration. The 2017 Muslim Ban breached the “anti-populist norm” and thus the essence of a liberal immigration policy. As Biden has promised a 100-day moratorium on deportations for the time after his inauguration, we could witness a clear shift away from the restrictive and brazenly discriminatory immigration policy of Trump. That being said, the new president could come under pressure from left-wing forces within his party, as they would likely not be satisfied with a return to the pre-Trump status quo.

While Germany is one of the most prominent proponents of a liberal immigration policy, the country is not as pro-open borders as it once was. After the so-called “refugee crisis” in 2015/16, Germany gradually moved to a more restrictive stance and has since supported initiatives on the European level that ought to implement more streamlined immigration management and ensure fast deportations. In particular, the Pact on Migration and Asylum which was agreed upon in the aftermath of the fire in the refugee camp Moria could mark the beginning of a more comprehensive European approach to migration, though doubts about the pact’s feasibility are justified.

Both countries face similar yet slightly different migration-related challenges. What both may do is to learn from one another and even jointly define the pillars of future immigration policy for the liberal world.