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Biden to Germans: You are xenophobic

Published time: June 12, 2014 17:14
US Vice President Joe Biden (AFP Photo / Andrew Caballero-Reynolds)

US Vice President Joe Biden (AFP Photo / Andrew Caballero-Reynolds)

Vice President Joe Biden undoubtedly ruffled some feathers in Germany on Tuesday when he suggested the country was “xenophobic” and much less accommodating to immigrants compared to the United States.

Speaking at an event held by the National Association of Manufacturers in Washington, DC, Biden gave a speech in which he described three things the United States needs to do to “keep our edge” in the global economy. One of these priorities is passing comprehensive immigration reform, but the way Biden chose to frame the issue has made headlines and raised plenty of eyebrows.

“We have to pass an immigration bill,” Biden said, as quoted by the Washington Examiner, which also obtained a recording of the segment. “Look at Germany, look at the rest of the world. We’re the only non-xenophobic nation in the world that’s a major economy.”

In a tweet by Detroit News DC Bureau Chief David Shepardson, the journalist said Biden went even further than that and added other countries in the mix, claiming that Germany, Japan, and China are all “not nearly as welcoming of immigrants” as the US.

Biden reportedly did not expand on his analysis, leaving many to question just how truthful it was. As noted by the German edition of The Local, the notion that Germany is hostile to immigrants doesn’t fit in with the facts inside Europe’s largest economy.

According to a May report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Germany has experienced a “boom” in immigration over the last few years, leapfrogging Canada and the United Kingdom to take second place as a top destination for migrants around the world, behind only the US. The OECD stated that between 2009 and 2012, permanent migration rose 38 percent as Germany moved up from eight place.

“Such a strong increase from one year to another has been rarely observed in any major OECD country,” Thomas Liebig, one of the study’s authors, said to Bloomberg. “We can clearly speak about a boom of migration to Germany without exaggeration.”

Meanwhile, The Local noted that new data from Germany’s Federal Statistics Office show more than 15.3 million people out of the country’s 81 million-strong population have a migrant background.

Before remarking on Germany’s xenophobia, Biden said the US needed to invest further in a skilled workforce and infrastructure, bemoaning the current lack of consensus on the issue.

“We have to invest in infrastructure,” he said. “That used to be an overwhelming bipartisan consensus in the united states of America. For the past 150 years it’s been a consensus; not at the moment.”

Notorious for making controversial statements or gaffes, Biden's comments regarding Germany aren't the first time he's been scrutinized. The vice president made waves in the past for being caught on a hot mic telling President Obama the Affordable Care Act is a “big f**king deal,” announcing his support for gay marriage before the president himself, and making questionable comments like telling a politician in a wheelchair to stand up for an applause.