EU country faces huge rise in illegal migrants as armed officers start crackdown

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Germany has moved to crack down on illegal migration, as Chancellor Olaf Scholz U-turns on border controls.

The number of illegal entries into Germany this year is set to be their highest since 2016.

There is growing frustration among Germans, who are increasingly turning to the far-right for solutions.

In a bid to get a grip on the situation, Mr Scholz’s Government has recently introduced checks on the borders of neighbouring states such as Poland, the Czech Republic and Switzerland.

These checks allow border officers to check for people-smugglers and illegal migrants.

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The BBC spoke with residents of Altenberg, a small Saxon town on the border with the Czech Republic.

The mayor, Markus Wiesenberg, said that smugglers drop off people as often as once a day in the town.

He said the influx had placed a strain on local services.

Mayor Wiesenberg added: “Sometimes local people find sleeping bags and campfires in the woods and they are worried for their children.”

He said that it seems that Germany “did not learn the lesson of 2015” – referring to the last European migration crisis.

The Altenberg mayor added: “We are as unprepared as then.”

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One of the locals, Thomas, told the BBC: “If hordes of young men arrive, we fear for our safety.”

Another local, Anja, who was protesting the influx, added: “I’m here for the children. For me the young migrants who come here, they are armies – and when the order comes for them to take action, then we’re done. Then Germany is done.”

Political polls have regularly placed the far-right, anti-immigration party, Alternative für Deutschland (AfD), ahead of the three governing parties.

Chancellor Scholz has this week introduced new rules to speed up the deportation of failed asylum seekers.

Steffen Hebestreit, Mr Scholz’s spokesman, said: “It’s clear that we have to restrict irregular migration and to send back more quickly the people who have no right to stay.”

Under the new rules, deportations will no longer have to be announced in advance and the amount of time a person can be kept in pre-deportation custody will be increased from 10 to 28 days.

Some senior political figures in Germany, including from the governing coalition, are calling for third-country deals.

This prompted Chancellor Scholz to travel to Nigeria this week to try and boost the number of returns.

Germany remains a top destination for asylum seekers.

In August, Germany received around 30 per cent of the 100,000 applications lodged within the EU, Norway and Switzerland.

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