In an abrupt about-face, perhaps engendered by political calculations, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has publicly admitted the existence of so-called "no-go zones": enclaves of migrants in various German cities who live insular lives that are resistant, and often downright hostile, to German values; places where it has become unsafe for tourists, outsiders of any kind, and even first responders such as firefighters and police, to venture.
These zones are fueled by the density of the unassimilated alien populations living within them, populations with cultural attitudes and values found in religiously conservative Muslim communities in the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia. Many of those values find expression in adherence to sharia law, including its expectations about how women dress and comport themselves, even though sharia conflicts with the laws and ethical structure of the host nation.
Merkel may be the first European, indeed Western, leader to admit the existence of such zones, although a number of observers have in the past suggested that they exist in Germany, as well as in Belgium (such as the Molenbeek area of Brusels, infamous for its harboring of terrorist jihadis); certain metropolitan areas of France, including some of its Parisian suburbs; and various enclaves in English cities, to name just a few. Some Australians even suggest that no-go zones are starting to develop in cities "down under."
It's ironic that Merkel holds this dubious honor, since in 2015 she unilaterally declared that Germany would accept without limit migrants crossing both maritime and land borders to get to the European Union (EU) — a position she reiterated publicly as recently as July 2017. Although Merkel primarily had in mind Syrians fleeing their war-ravaged nation, her statements became a clarion call for at least 1.5 million "irregular arrivals" (EU diplo-speak for illegal entry).
Germany has struggled with the consequences since Merkel's ill-conceived remarks sparked the flood, including infamous sexual assaults on women by groups of migrant men loitering in the public squares of major German cities during holiday seasons, terrorist attacks on trains and holiday markets, burgeoning crime, and even a de facto acceptance of polygamy among its unassimilated inflow.
But Germany has not been alone in staggering under the weight. So have the front-line countries of the EU, such as Greece and Italy, whose islands have served as convenient arrival points for seaborne migrants smuggled from Turkey and North Africa, as well as the Eastern European countries that meet Turkey's land bridge from Asia into Europe. Many were obliged to create, or significantly beef up, their border guard corps, erect fences, and take substantially less welcoming measures than Merkel's to staunch the flow. And the EU was then obliged to offer what was, for all intents and purposes, a bribe to Turkey with promises of millions of euros in "assistance", in order to persuade that country to ensure that its own police and border guards prevented unauthorized departures by land or sea.
And even as Merkel is now belatedly tacking right, as evidenced by her most recent admission of no-go zones — quite probably as the result of her political party's waning popularity in Germany, and her difficulty forming an effective governing coalition — she is still pushing EU leaders to oblige all other EU nations to accept their "fair share" of these unassimilated and, at least in some instances potentially unassimilable, individuals, though they had no say in Merkel's welcome. This threatens EU unity even as the union still attempts to come to grips with Brexit.
The consequence, throughout Europe, has been a surge in the popularity of governments and political parties that advocate more restrictionist immigration policies (see, e.g. here and here). As in the United States, some of these parties have been unfairly smeared as xenophobic, ultra-right-wing, and "nationalist".
The lesson for the United States in all of this isn't to close our doors. It does suggest strongly, however, that we must be prudent in vetting people from other parts of the earth whose cultural values are so singularly different from ours to ensure that they can assimilate; that they are "well disposed to the good order and happiness of the United States"; and that they are philosophically capable of "attach[ment] to the principles of the Constitution," which includes the notion that ours is a civil society, and that government at all levels is ruled by civil, not religious, law.
It also means accepting inflows of individuals only at a rate that permits our various local and state governments to meaningfully interact with and care for them because, once here, they become mainly reliant on states, counties, and cities — not the federal government — for their care, education, acculturation, and integration into their new communities.
One often hears the assertion that our Constitution prohibits discrimination on the basis of religion, and that this prohibition extends to refugees and other aliens outside our shores. Putting aside whether this is true, though, if aliens outside the boundaries of constitutional coverage are entitled to its protections, what about the reverse?
What happens when religious belief and cultural practice and mores are so ingrained in some individuals as to prevent them from meaningfully subscribing to the tenets of the American Constitution, to American forms of government, or to our social mores? They may wish to share in our cornucopia of plenty, but at the same time expect our society and government to adapt itself to fit into their cultural and religious telescope. Is this acceptable?
How do we resolve the standoff? Surely the answer must be exercised in favor of our way of life, else we risk losing everything simply by permitting ourselves to be overwhelmed numerically by individuals who don't want to become American in any meaningful sense.
Dan Cadman is Fellow at Center for Immigration Studies and is a retired INS / ICE official with thirty years of government experience. Mr. Cadman served as a senior supervisor and manager at headquarters, as well as at field offices both domestically and abroad.
Editor's Note: This piece was originally published by the Center for Immigration Studies.