Germany steps up deportations as migration pressure increases
German lawmakers have drawn up legislation to ease deportations. Political pressure is rising on the country’s governing coalition, which fared poorly in two state elections on Sunday in part because of the migration issue.
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The German government has drawn up legislation to ease deportations of unsuccessful asylum-seekers and plans to discuss measures to tackle migration with the opposition as it tries to defuse what has become a major political problem.
Shelters for migrants and refugees have been filling up in recent months as significant numbers of asylum-seekers add to more than 1 million Ukrainians who have arrived since the start of the war in their homeland.
It’s an issue across Germany, and local and state officials have been demanding more funds from the federal government.
“It is a challenge that so many people are coming to Germany irregularly – the numbers of those who are coming as refugees today are too high,” Chancellor Olaf Scholz told ARD television Oct. 11. He said he plans to meet opposition leader Friedrich Merz and two leading state governors on Friday “so that we all pull together in the same direction.”
Rising concern over migration was one factor in poor performances for the three governing parties in a pair of state elections on Sunday. They brought two wins for Mr. Merz’s conservative opposition bloc, which has assailed Mr. Scholz’s government on the issue, and significant gains for the far-right Alternative for Germany party.
Interior Minister Nancy Faeser herself suffered a heavy defeat in a bid to become governor of her home state, but reiterated Thursday that she plans to remain Germany’s top security official in charge of the response to migration.
“What is very important is that everyone recognize that there is no one single measure that will help us at the moment to reduce illegal migration, but a package of measures,” she said.
Ms. Faeser this week announced a plan to ease the deportation of people who don’t have a right to stay in Germany.
Among other measures, the draft legislation foresees raising the maximum length of pre-deportation custody from 10 days to 28 and specifically easing the deportation of people who have been sentenced to a year or more in prison or are members of a criminal organization. It also will enable searches of residences for documentation allowing officials to firmly establish a person’s identity.
The government already had drawn up legislation to declare Moldova and Georgia “safe countries of origin,” meaning that asylum-seekers from there can be rejected and deported more easily.
Last month, Ms. Faeser ordered border checks on Germany’s eastern frontiers with Poland and the Czech Republic strengthened.
On Wednesday, The Associated Press accompanied a federal police patrol near Forst, on the Polish border. Officers found two groups of migrants, one of which apparently had been dropped off on the other side of the Neisse River, which forms the border, and walked over a railway bridge.
Members of one group raised their hands when asked whether they came from Syria. The migrants were searched in an effort to find any IDs and taken to be registered.
Frank Malack, the federal police officer overseeing the patrol, said there has been a “continuous rise” since the summer in the number of people being picked up, with groups of up to 30 people at a time being found.
While trying to reduce new arrivals and ease deportations, the government also aims to make it easier for refugees to work, Mr. Scholz said. He added that it also would support local authorities enabling community work by migrants.