BERLIN (AP) — After wrongly stating a day earlier that crime in Germany is surging, U.S. President Donald Trump is singling out the European nation again to warn about the alleged danger posed by migrants.
Trump tweeted Tuesday: "Crime in Germany is up 10% plus (officials do not want to report these crimes) since migrants were accepted. Others countries are even worse. Be smart America!"
The claim about an overall rise in crime due to migration is false, as the latest official figures show.
Responding to Trump's tweets about crime in Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel cited figures showing a nearly 10 percent drop in crime nationwide, bringing it to the lowest level since 1992. She said the statistics "speak for themselves."
"We see somewhat positive developments there," Merkel told reporters Tuesday. "Of course, we need to do more to combat crime, but those were indeed encouraging numbers."
While Trump didn't cite a source, the figure in his Tuesday tweet may draw on a widely publicized study released earlier this year that showed a 10.4 percent increase in the number of violent crimes reported in the German state of Lower Saxony from 2015 to 2016.
The government-funded study concluded that 92 percent of the roughly 1,700 additional crimes recorded during the period could be attributed to the increase in refugee numbers during those two years. Yet crime numbers in Lower Saxony remain far lower than a decade earlier, before the migrant influx.
The authors noted that the majority of the refugees were young males, and this population is more likely to commit crimes regardless of whether they are migrants or Germans. Experts also say crowded temporary holding facilities can lead to fights among the groups living there, which are reported as assaults.
Far from being swept under the carpet, the findings of the study and a series of high-profile incidents involving refugees have fueled an ongoing debate in Germany about how to tackle migrant crime. That has already resulted in a string of measures to improve the integration of migrants and to deport serious offenders.
Government officials noted that migrants with a greater chance of being able to stay in Germany are less likely to commit crimes than those who have worse prospects. They also pointed to the lack of women among Germany's refugee population as an aggravating factor, saying family reunification could alleviate the problem.
"This makes it more likely for groups of young men to emerge among the refugees and they can develop a violent dynamic of their own," the authors wrote, concluding that it makes sense to allow refugees to bring over their families.
Finally, they said victims of crime are twice as likely to report incidents if they are committed by people who are different from them, distorting the statistics.
The study examining recorded violent crimes in Lower Saxony pointed to a year-on-year rise from 17,568 cases in 2015 to 19,267 in 2016.
The latest state crime statistics show violent crime in Lower Saxony fell in 2017, to 18,454 cases — significantly less than a decade earlier, when the figure stood at 22,360 cases.
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