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The North Wind

The North Wind

The North Wind

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Megan Poe
Opinion Editor

My name is Megan Poe and I’m an English (writing concentration) and Philosophy double major at Northern. My concurrent experience with being published in and interning for literary magazines has landed...

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Dallas WiertellaApril 30, 2024

Fighting for civil rights in Germany

For the past several years, illegal immigration has been a hot button issue in the United States. The constant discussions of the problem have been in the American mentality for years from the Elian Gonzalez affair of 2000, to the wall George W. Bush proposed along the Rio Grande, to a recent study by the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) that found granting amnesty to undocumented immigrants in the United States would boost the economy by $1.3 trillion in the next 10 years.

No matter what the solution to illegal immigration is in the United States, the current situation in Germany offers a chilling example of what could happen here if we are not careful with preserving our civil liberties.

In the 1980s, the German government offered political asylum to refugees of the Lebanese Civil War. During this time, a large number of Arabic-speaking Turks from the Turkish city of Mardin went to Germany, pretending to be Lebanese refugees. The situation became very complicated because a large number of refugees from Lebanon were of Turkish descent.

Over 20 years later, Germany’s solution to this misunderstanding is to conduct DNA tests of the individuals they suspected were not actually from Lebanon. If the tests showed that the people who said they were from Lebanon were Turkish, the German government arrested them under suspicion of illegal immigration. They were then brought before a court so that they could prove how integrated they had become during their time in Germany. If people proved they were integrated enough, they were allowed to stay. But according to the German newspaper Der Spiegel, 1,800 people accused of being illegal Turkish immigrants have been deported in the city of Essen alone, a city with a population of about 600,000.

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There are several reasons why this process is appalling, and shows a complete disregard for tolerance, civil liberties and rights. If someone legitimately came from Lebanon, but happens to be of Turkish descent, they are just as likely to be deported as someone who went there illegally.

An even more distressing thought is the children of these illegal immigrants — children who are teenagers or in their twenties now, who were born in Germany, grew up in Germany, speak German, work in German factories and office buildings and go to German schools — are being deported as well.
Der Spiegal wrote a feature article last year which focused on the case of Mohammed Eke, a 21-year-old who was born and raised in Essen, Germany, believing his parents were Lebanese. Eke received a rude awakening when deportation officials came and informed him his entire life was a lie.

Eke, like many others, had to prove how integrated he was before a court. Eke was born in Germany, had a German girlfriend, was raised in Germany and for all intensive purposes, believed himself to be German. How does someone prove to a court that they have a legal right to live the life they’ve always lived? Eke attempted to talk about his life, told the court about all of the things he did as a German in Germany. But after all of his attempts to prove his integration, like 1,800 other people in the city of Essen, he was sent to Turkey, a nation he’d never set foot in; a country whose language he did not even speak.
Considering Germany’s notorious reputation for violating human rights, one would think that they would be more careful. Tearing someone from the life they have always known and forcing them to live in a country whose customs they are unfamiliar with is preposterous.
Thankfully, we live in a country where something like this is not likely to happen as long as we continue protecting civil liberties for every citizen.

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