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Germany demands explanation from Poland over migrants

Warsaw is accused of taking bribes to issue EU visas to migrants, many of whom then crossed the border into Germany

German Federal Police stop a van to search for immigrants at the border crossing from Poland into Germany in Frankfurt an der Oder, Germany, October 28, 2021 ©  AP / Markus Schreiber

Germany summoned Polish ambassador Dariusz Pawlos to the Interior Ministry in Berlin on Tuesday, demanding that he explain an alleged scheme whereby migrants from Asia and Africa were sold EU visas for thousands of euros each.

In addition to summoning Pawlos, German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser held a meeting with her Polish counterpart, Reuters reported.

Poland’s Foreign Ministry and consulates are accused of issuing visas to migrants from Asia and Africa without adequate background checks, as long as bribes were paid to intermediaries. The scheme was uncovered by Polish media outlets earlier this month, who claimed that up to 350,000 visas have been issued this way since 2021, with visas costing $4,000-5,000 each.

Poland is a member of the EU’s visa-free Schengen zone, meaning that anyone who obtains a Polish visa can freely enter 26 other EU nations.

Read more
Polish FM dismisses cash-for-visas scandal as ‘fake news’

It is unclear how many migrants took advantage of this arrangement to enter Germany. However, hundreds of extra border police have been deployed on the frontier with Poland to scan for suspicious travelers, Reuters reported.

According to one report from Poland’s Onet news site, former Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Piotr Wawrzyk arranged visas for a group of Indians posing as a Bollywood film crew. The Indians paid up to $40,000 each for these visas, before using them to attempt to enter the US via Mexico. US immigration agents reportedly tipped off the Polish government when they encountered the group at the American border.

Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau has dismissed the scandal as “fake news,” insisting that only around 200 documents were issued with any “irregularities.” However, Wawrzyk was dismissed from his post last month, and eleven other suspects were arrested last week. Wawrzyk was hospitalized after attempting to commit suicide last week, Polish media reported.

The controversy erupted one month ahead of parliamentary elections in Poland, where the ruling PiS party has positioned itself as being tough on migration. The government also plans to hold a referendum on immigration and border security, in which citizens will be asked whether they support accepting “thousands of illegal immigrants from the Middle East and Africa” as part of an EU relocation plan.

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