Best columns: Europe
Why migrants commit more crimes
It’s an unpleasant truth: Migrants really have brought crime to Germany, said Ulrike Scheffer. A government-commissioned study has found that in 2015 and 2016—when 1 million asylum seekers flocked to Germany—the state of Lower Saxony experienced a 10.4 percent surge in reported violent crimes. But that’s not an argument against the generosity that led Germans to open their doors to those fleeing war in Iraq and Syria. The study found that so-called economic migrants from North Africa were far more likely than legitimate asylum seekers to commit a violent crime. These economic migrants, mostly young men, lack job prospects in their home countries, Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia, so they come here to get “social benefits and a roof over their head.” But because they don’t qualify for refugee status, they receive neither sympathy from Germans nor any hope of staying here permanently. “Frustration and aggression are the result.” There’s no excuse for violence, of course, but in understanding the causes we can look for a solution. Right now, only skilled workers can come to Germany legally—even though our unemployment rate is a lowly 3.6 percent and we need laborers. Germany should enact “a regulated labor migration system that includes training possibilities.” Desperate Africans need a legal path—and we need them.
A feared raptor soars once again
The dreaded bearded vulture of French folklore is back, said Richard Schittly. But don’t worry, that’s good news. The massive raptor, with a wingspan of up to 10 feet, was called the “bone breaker” for its habit of dropping large animal bones from the sky to smash them on Alpine rocks, exposing the nourishing marrow within. “Terrible legends” sprang up about the bird. The 1st-century Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder described the bearded vulture as a symbol of evil; French farmers claimed it pushed cows over cliffs and carried away children. That’s why, at the turn of the 20th century, it was included on a list of harmful animals. Hunted mercilessly, the bearded vulture was eradicated from the French Alps by 1920. But thanks to the tireless work of environmentalists, the raptor is soaring again in the mountains of France, Switzerland, Austria, and Italy. Starting in the late 1980s, activists scoured zoos for specimens and captured wild birds in Afghanistan and Russia. They brought the animals to breeding centers in Alpine villages, where local volunteers tossed food to chicks, being careful not to tame them. There are now more than 300 birds in the Alps, including 42 breeding pairs. “The vulture has a powerful unifying effect,” says breeding monitor Martine Razine. It is “a beautiful expression of European solidarity.”