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Refugee Crisis In Germany Mirrors CA's Experience In 1980s

Markus Schreiber / AP

Hundreds of migrants waits in a tent to continue their registration process at the central registration center for refugees and asylum seekers LaGeSo in Berlin, Monday, Dec. 14, 2015.

Markus Schreiber / AP

Germany is struggling to keep up with an influx of refugees. Many are fleeing conflicts in the Middle East. California experienced a similar situation in the 1980’s.

Mohamed, 22, was attending college in Syria when civil war broke out. He was in danger of being drafted into the Syrian army so he decided to migrate to Germany. At a reception center in Berlin, Mohamed said he’d been treated well.

"The German people, what they did by opening up their doors and stuff like that, was really good," he says. "And even when you came to Munich, you would actually see people like cheering. You feel like you’re in a soccer field or something like that."

UC Berkeley Sociology Professor Irene Bloemraad says Germany’s situation is similar to what California experienced in the 1980’s. Conflict in Central America drove many people north. But she says the reception in California was mixed.

"People might remember the sanctuary movement which was really trying to find a safe space for these people fleeing civil conflict," says Bloemraad. "And at the same time, others were concerned about the political loyalties of some of the people who were fleeing, which has obvious parallels to what’s going on now."

A few months into his stay Mohamed says Germans continue to treat refugees well, though the terrorist attacks in Paris have taken a toll.

"The things going on right now in Europe, it just makes everything harder," he says. "The Paris incident, the heightened security all over Europe, it basically just clouded their whole thinking of the refugee crisis that’s happening."

Mohamed says he’s not certain about the future, but he’s still pursuing his asylum application.  

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