Since the beginning of the Syrian Civil War in 2011, approximately five million refugees have fled their homeland. By 2017, Germany had accepted over half a million refugees from Syria; in stark contrast, the U.S. had allowed approximately 10,000 Syrian refugees to enter. What are the factors that explain why some countries are more open to refugees than others? This article compares German and U.S. responses to the Syrian refugee crisis, placing the differing responses in their historical, cultural, political, and institutional contexts. While acknowledging that proximity matters, the authors argue that several other factors are more important to explain the gulf between the German and U.S. response. One key variable is the extent to which policy-making is embedded in an international context. Given the fact that Germany’s refugee policy is couched within the EU, it is less volatile and more likely to reflect international norms. This applies, contrary to first impression, to chancellor Merkel’s open door policy of September 2015 as well. By contrast, U.S. refugee policy is more subject to political interests and trends. In addition, the critical juncture literature is applied to explain how the U.S. has, after the 9/11/2001 attacks, dramatically altered refugee policy to reflect public opinion and public concerns about national security.
Zeitschrift für Vergleichende Politikwissenschaft – Springer Journals
Published: Jan 23, 2018
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