When Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel welcomed a great influx of refugees in 2015 rather than denying them at the border, she received overwhelming criticism for opening the country’s borders to migrants. Germany was suddenly the country with the second-highest population of refugees in the world, and critics said this would lead to more crime and disorder.
But as the years have passed on, it seems the fears and worries set forth by critics have gone largely unfounded. Of the 1.7 million people who applied for asylum in Germany between 2015 and 2019, more than half now work and pay taxes. Among refugee children and teenagers, more than 80 percent say they have a strong sense of belonging to their German schools and feel liked by their peers.
Another astounding fact is that more than 10,000 people who arrived since 2015 have mastered the language sufficiently to enroll at a German university. As featured in a recent Guardian article, one of those university students is Mohammad Hallak, who said he found the key to unlocking the mysteries of his new homeland when he realized you could switch the subtitles on your Netflix account to German. Hallak, who comes from Aleppo, Syria, wrote down the words he didn’t know in order to increase his vocabulary and quickly become fluent.
Five years to the month after arriving in Germany as an unaccompanied minor, Hallak is now in his third term studying computer science at the Westphalian University of Applied Sciences and wants to become an IT entrepreneur.
“Germany was always my goal”, he says. “I’ve always had a funny feeling that I belong here.”
To see for yourself how Merkel’s great migrant gamble paid off, take a look at this fantastic in-depth piece from The Guardian.