Thursday, March 10, 2016

Schengen, Schmengen: Racheting up the Controls in Europe

Germany and the Netherlands are parties to the Schengen agreement, right? Last time I looked, this agreement still held, meaning that German citizens and most other folks traveling between these countries by train can sleep through their journey without being awakened by the ticket-taker for a passport check. Here's what Wikipedia still says:
The Schengen Area operates very much like a single state for international travel purposes with external border controls for travellers entering and exiting the area, and common visas, but with no internal border controls. It currently consists of 26 European countries covering a population of over 400 million people and an area of 4,312,099 square kilometres (1,664,911 sq mi)
But yesterday when my German husband took trains from our small city in the Northwest to Utrecht, plain-clothed inspectors, a man and a women, showed identification as people were getting ready to disembark in the Netherlands, and demanded to see passports. 
As Merkel continues her mantra--"Wir Schaffen das!" (We can manage this! We can do it!) she's increasingly shouted down by those favoring closed borders decorated with barbed wire, plus guards who shoot at anyone scaling the barbs. People do scale those barbs, with their bare hands, too, babies on backs. I just switched off a CNN display of Trump asking admirers to raise their hands and vote for him--yes, it calls to mind the Sieg Heil! of Hitler's minions. Folks don't need much to get them very scared, and any thug can manipulate that fear. Why am I writing all this when nobody reads this blog anyway? Because I hope one or two people who just want a safe haven can manage to fake a passport that'll get them into Amsterdam or one of the larger German cities, where I imagine them seeking shelter with a friend, working at street cleaning, then opening up shop as greengrocers and living happily ever after.

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