The Integration Puzzle What a Million Refugees Mean for Everyday Life
Part 6: 'A Challenge Like No Other'
Steffen Jäger, 37, is a senior official with the Association of Municipalities of Baden-Württemberg.
Do we need better public servants, Mr. Jäger?
In the lecture hall of the Ludwigsburg University of Education, Steffen Jäger paints a vivid picture of what 300 budding administrators for the German state of Baden-Württemberg should expect: asylum applications that must be fast-tracked, costs that nobody knows who will pay and concerned or angry citizens demanding answers about slots at government-sponsored daycare facilities, housing availability and social welfare benefits now that more people are in need of such benefits.
"It's a challenge like no other we have seen since the founding of the Federal Republic of Germany," says Jäger. "And you, ladies and gentlemen, are to be entrusted with this task." The crowd of prospective bureaucrats is subdued. The primary mesage conveyed to them is that they have their work cut out for them. Lots of it.
Jäger's event is titled, "The current refugee situation and the challenges it poses for local politics." He was invited to speak in his capacity as a senior official with the Association of Municipalities of Baden-Württemburg, which represents the interests of more than 1,000 communities in Germany's third most-populous state. Jäger believes that the question of whether or not Germany is up to the task of absorbing so many refugees will be determined at the local level.
"Local governments are the first point of contact for those granted asylum, for volunteers and for companies that want to hire refugees," Jäger says. The administrative apparatus has a pivotal function. "But right now, it's highly dysfunctional." His people are at the breaking point. They want to fulfill their mission, "but we are urgently awaiting answers from the state and federal governments as to how all this is supposed to be financed."
Jäger's fantasy would be for every city hall in the country to hire "refugee managers," who would act as a go-between for authorities, schools, daycare centers, volunteers and other associations. Task forces would be formed, made up of the directors of various offices, to come up with master plans for the communities. For now, though, that's all wishful thinking. Even without such new positions, Jäger estimates Baden-Württemberg will have to come up with 4.7 billion ($5.2 billion) for the refugees it takes in.
Will Germany manage it? Jäger stays silent for a long time before answering: "If everyone shifts into crisis mode, yes."
- Part 1: What a Million Refugees Mean for Everyday Life
- Part 2: Integration 101
- Part 3: Are Refugees More Violent?
- Part 4: Frustration and a Lack of Resources
- Part 5: Teaching Refugees to Swim
- Part 6: 'A Challenge Like No Other'
- Part 7: The Doctor's Advice: Learn German and Be Patient
- Part 8: A 1.5 Billion Burden for the Healthcare System?
- Part 9: Dancing Away Stereotypes and Prejudice
- Part 10: The Midwife's Migraine
- Part 11: Germany Will Need 20,000 New Teachers for Refugees
- Part 12: 'We Need Time'
- Part 13: 'We Will Only Manage This If We Have the Infrastructure'
- Part 14: 'We Will Undergo a Multicultural Transformation'
- Part 15: Refugees at Our Doorsteps
- Part 16: 1.09 Million Refugees Registered in 2015
- Part 17: Policing the Refugee Camps
- Part 18: The Refugee Bill
- Part 19: Integration Will Be a Task for Decades to Come
- Part 20: 'An Open Economy Would Be Unimaginable without Immigration'
- Part 21: BMW Courts Refugees
- Part 22: A Michelin Star and Refugees
- Part 23: 'What Is a Petroleum Technician?'