Ref the second bit, last time I checked Call Me Dave hasn't invited the c.3-5,000 representatives of the Ummah camped out at Calais to come on in and give their mates a shout too, whereas Ms Merkel has invited up to a million who are currently arriving or inbound as just the first tranche, and has had to backtrack by closing the border with Austria and putting the Bundeswehr on alert even though German law precludes them becoming involved in riot control or worse.
Well, that's certainly how the Daily Mail would portray it, anyway.
First, the situation has ironically been created by something people always demand of politicians: To stick to the facts and not obfuscate, lie, hide, or play political games with them. This started out with the announcement that Syrians will currently not be sent back to Hungary as warranted by the Dublin Agreement, though the explanation that this was done due to a lack of administrative capacities in the swell fell a little by the wayside in the public perception. Similar with the statement that up to 800,000 were expected this year total, and Germany could handle this; which is at least a reasonable assumption and a positive take, something leaders need to show sometimes, though again the addition of "but not every year" was a bit neglected. Lastly, Merkel's statement of "there can be no upper limit to take in those seeking protection" was also factual, since as detailed earlier on the imigration thread, asylum is an individual right under the German constitution.
Under the circumstances, a little obfuscation might actually have been a good thing, but the thing here is, none of these statements were meant to be projected abroad, but rather for the domestic audience. Of course in our networked instant total information world, there is no such separation, and you can only prevent statements of fact to be mistaken or willfully misconstrued as an invitation by refugees, traffickers and, on the other side, immigration critics, by not making them at all - AKA obfuscating and lying to the domestic audience, which tends not to appreciate this. It's an interesting problem really.
Second, of course borders are not being closed, just controls temporarily reintroduced as possible under the Schengen agreements in exceptional situations endangering public safety. It's not the first time even Germany has done this; it happened during the recent G7 summit in Bavaria, too, to filter out violent would-be protesters attracted to the event from points south and west. As it is, the controls will not do much to reduce the stream either, since they obviously take place on German territory and arrivals will have to be handled the same as before, at least if they utter the magical word "asylum".
However, people were getting a little nervous about ten thousands of folks coming in completely unregistered, their identity or something resembling it established neither in Hungary nor Austria, some distributing themselves across Germany by moving out of the shelters on their own, presumably to seek out already-settled relatives or similar. While it's certainly also meant as a signal to the outside trying to correct the previous impression somewhat, it's therefore mostly about channeling the stream into the proper channels and make handling it a bit more manageable.
Lastly, like any other public institution, the Bundeswehr can help out others under Article 35 of the constitution if requested by appropriate civilian authorities; it has long been doing so in the current crisis with soldiers putting up tents, providing medical capacities and even helping with the administrative work in relevant agencies in addition to providing general "helping hands". Not least, 20,000 refugees have so far been quartered in inactive and even active barracks.
Article 35 is most frequently used for disaster relief, but can include support of law enforcement. To which extent precisely has long been the subject of controversy; everyone agrees, and the defense minister recently reiterated, that the Bundeswehr has no police authority of its own. However, Bundeswehr helicopters have airlifted police, Recce Tornados have looked for missing persons and, in a particularly controversial instance, surveilled G8 protest camps during the Heiligendamm summit a couple years ago; on the same occasion, Fenneks were used for observation purposes.
So far, armed troops have never been used in direct support of police like the French do it, and I was able to observe close up and personal just today. By traditional interpretation, the wording of "particularly severe accident" in Article 35 would preclude this; something that influenced debate about giving the Luftwaffe authority to shoot down hijacked aircraft in 9/11-style scenarios a decade back. However, the Constitutional Court in turn shot down that law - but not over Article 35 but Article 1 safeguarding human dignity, ruling that the lifes of a few innocent passengers could not be weighted against the lifes of many possible victims on the ground. However, recently the court also ruled that the Bundeswehr could use military-type weaponry under Article 35, which would stretch the meaning of "accident" rather wide. So I guess direct backup of police would be possible; but it's not currently being done, and frankly I see not much sense in it either.
ETA: BTW, the direct lifting of refugees from camps in Turkey etc. has been brought up here, too, as a way to cut out the traffickers. That's certainly worth thinking about; I just don't think it will keep away the ones with the means to pay their way to Europe if rejected at this venue. I would also be surprised if only 20 percent would be West Balkan residents, as those made up 40 percent of applications in Germany this year so far and the stream goes right through their home countries (though maybe their proportion is now reduced by the surge of others). Anyway, of course everybody and his mother are claiming to be Syrian right now, reportedly even including obvious sub-Saharan Africans.
Edited by BansheeOne, 15 September 2015 - 1123 AM.