Peggy Greiser, a non-party district administrator in Schmalkalden-Meiningen, Thuringia, criticizes the traffic light’s asylum policy. Despite acute calls for help, Berlin has done “little to nothing” to stop the excesses of failed immigration policy. For Greiser it was a “catastrophe”.

Railway employees who lock themselves in the driver’s cab out of fear of violent asylum seekers. Inspectors who are insulted, choked or threatened with a knife. Passengers who no longer want to help other victims because they fear being attacked themselves.

FOCUS online reported on such scenes from Thuringian regional trains last week. More than 520,000 people read the article and were mostly shocked. For many, the conditions described are symbolic of the largely failed asylum and migration policy – far beyond Thuringia.

Peggy Greiser, a non-party district administrator in Schmalkalden-Meiningen in Thuringia, also sees it this way.

Part of the railway connection from Erfurt to Suhl runs through your district, where several hundred asylum seekers, mainly from Syria, Afghanistan and Turkey, are accommodated in an initial reception facility. Some of them continue to cause problems, most recently with nasty attacks on local trains.

Greiser to FOCUS online: “Such excesses are a direct and, above all, foreseeable consequence of a quixotic laissez-faire policy.” The district administrator demands that the constitutional state finally act “with all severity” against the perpetrators.

“It is a catastrophe when people have to live through fear at their workplace and asylum seekers who seek help here in Germany make other people’s lives hell,” said Greiser. The only possible consequence is: “Harsh punishments, quick deportations, entry bans.”

The 53-year-old emphasizes that her statements are not a blanket judgment. There are quite a few refugees who work, want to integrate and respect German laws. “But anyone who doesn’t follow the rules, like the perpetrators on the Southern Thuringia Railway, must leave Germany as quickly as possible.”

When asked whether politicians like Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser (both SPD) or Bundestag Vice President Katrin Göring-Eckardt (Greens) should travel through Thuringia on a normal train, Greiser answers:

“A few trips on certain regional lines in Germany would really do some federal and state politicians some good.”

However, it would be even more important that those responsible “finally listen to the local community – and these are the district administrators and mayors who experience first-hand every day what is going wrong in this country.”

Greiser, who was elected to lead the district in 2018 as the SPD and Left candidate, has long been considered a sharp-tongued critic of federal and state asylum and migration policy. She made emergency calls several times.

Her district last made a name for itself in January 2024 – with a resolution in which problems were clearly identified and solutions were proposed.

The demands included “effective combating illegal migration”, “effective and functioning return strategies” and the “drastic reduction of benefits for asylum seekers who are obliged to leave the country”.

Hoping that Berlin would listen to them and act quickly, the Thuringian provincial politicians sent the explosive paper to Federal Interior Minister Faeser. But it happened for a long time: nothing.

It was only almost three months later, at the beginning of May, that the head of the department responsible for migration policy in the Ministry of the Interior reported back.

He thanked Greiser and their colleagues in the Deep East for their “valuable contribution to this necessary discussion across society” and their “great commitment”. He then listed extensive examples of the supposedly excellent work of the federal government and sent “kind regards”.

District Administrator Greiser can hardly hide her disappointment at the meaningless reaction from Faeser’s house. “Little to nothing” has happened since the resolution was passed, she criticizes in an interview with FOCUS online. On the contrary. The recent excesses of violence on regional trains showed “how urgent our demands still are”.

As an example, Greiser cites the problems with returning people who do not have the right to reside in Germany. “The supposedly simplified regulations for deportations are a joke. The obstacles still exist,” she complains. “We would like to deport more, but this fails due to the legal framework and bureaucratic hurdles.”

The existing regulations on deportation would reduce this instrument “in practice almost to the point of absurdity”. There is also a lack of a “pressure mechanism for asylum seekers who do not follow the rules”.

Greiser demands: “For criminals or other asylum seekers who demonstrably do not adhere to the rules in Germany, deportation must follow immediately!” This is miles away.

“An immigration authority’s application to leave the country for a criminal only has a chance of success if, for example, he or she has been sentenced to a prison sentence or a youth sentence of at least two years, is a convicted multiple offender or is proven to be a terrorist or dangerous person,” explains the district administrator.

However, in many cases these hurdles are too high. Courts would often impose fines, suspended sentences or prison sentences of less than two years for crimes such as fraud, burglary, robbery, extortion, assault or rape – depending on the circumstances of the crime.

Peggy Greiser about the consequences: “As a rule, all of these asylum seekers cannot be deported as criminals and can even continue to hope for the right to remain – that’s crazy!”

The district administrator demands: “The legislature must urgently lower the legal hurdles for the deportation of criminals in the Residence Act and create more detention places.”

Greiser believes that those in political positions have “only a limited” perception of the reality of many people’s lives and are not really interested in their problems.

“Basically, more and more citizens have the impression that decisions are being made over their heads and that their concerns and fears are not being taken seriously.” This is particularly true in asylum and migration issues.

“We feel the effects of misguided politics every day,” explains the district administrator. “The population perceives this policy as naive and dangerous.”

Many people do not understand “that criminal asylum seekers can stay in the country and that people who are actually required to leave the country are allowed to live here permanently and even receive unlimited social benefits.”

Greiser to FOCUS online: “We find the financial burden on taxpayers due to the large number of asylum seekers required to leave the country to be intolerable, especially in view of other urgent challenges that the country is facing.”

As of December 31, 2023, around 242,600 people in Germany were required to leave the country, most of them were rejected asylum seekers. 80 percent of these “those required to leave the country” (almost 194,000) have a tolerated stay. This means that you have been asked to leave the country, but cannot be deported for factual or legal reasons. The number of people “immediately obliged to leave the country” who could be deported immediately is around 48,700.

Due to the continuing enormous burden on the municipalities and in view of the growing dissatisfaction among the population, Greiser calls for “the consistent implementation of our resolution”.

It insists on “stopping illegal migration flows” and “a harmonization of social benefits compared to other European countries”, as well as on “drastic sanctions for asylum seekers who are obliged to leave the country” and consistent returns “of those who are obliged to leave the country, criminals and those at risk”.

If none of this happens, the mood within society will continue to deteriorate and polarization will advance, warns the district administrator. “There is a danger that growing dissatisfaction will increase support for anti-democratic forces.”

A new state parliament will be elected in Thuringia on September 1, 2024.

According to current surveys, the AfD would be the strongest force with around 30 percent of the vote, the CDU would get around 20 percent. The new “Alliance Sahra Wagenknecht”, like the Left, is currently at 16 percent, the SPD at seven percent, the Greens at five percent and the FDP at two percent.