Four weeks ahead of the parliamentary election in Germany, the German Social Democrats (SPD) are trying to clearly distinguish their position on the issue of migration from that of the ruling CDU/CSU party, according to the mayor of Berlin’s Neukölln district, Franziska Giffey.

Giffey revealed difficulties in the integration process and outlined her criticism of some of the SPD leadership’s plans.

“We can’t say that an increase in the number of refugees has led to a growth in the number of crimes. But, of course, in our district there are serious social problems, and, besides, some Arab families behave terribly. And there is a small number of recidivists, who make life difficult for others. They must be consistently dealt with. But many of them have been Germans for many generations,” the official said.

The main street in Berlin’s Neukölln district is often called an Arab street because of the large number of migrants living there.

According to Giffey, there is always a danger that new refugees that come to live in the district can get involved in illegal criminal activities.

“This mainly concerns Arab refugees, who are still poorly oriented, who don’t speak German and for whom such criminal structures serve as ‘bridgeheads.’ That is why we must closely monitor and prevent the situation when the integration is intercepted by people who have embarked on a criminal path. We must deal with this integration ourselves: take care that children go to school, that people learn German and that they get education or go to work,” Giffey said.

At the same time, the mayor regretfully noted that kindergardens and education facilities for children lack places and aren’t available to everyone.

Commenting on the recent SPD proposal to make the whole education system — from kindergarten to university — free, Giffey noted that the implementation of this initiative would be difficult.

“Of course, it is a great idea to say that education should be free and accessible to everyone. But I’m always torn between ideal and reality. And the reality is that we lack places in our kindergartens. We could create 600 places at once, but we don’t have enough staff because the job of a tutor is poorly paid,” Giffey said.

“Therefore, it is first necessary to deal with such problems as the quality of kindergartens and good pay for educators so that we can guarantee that we can offer every child a place in a kindergarten without any problems,” she concluded.

Around 350,000 minors came to Germany in 2015 and 2016, creating new problems for child care infrastructure. Earlier, a new UNICEF report announced that child refugees in Germany often have no space to play and no chance to go to school. Moreover, they are not sufficiently protected from violence and abuse, the report noted.

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