German Chancellor Angela Merkel is set to reveal her plans to increase deportations of failed asylum seekers significantly.
Measures include allowing access to the phones and sim cards of the asylum seekers to verify their identities and raising the amount paid to voluntary returnees.
Germany is set to have elections later this year, and migration has become one of the most politicized issues in the country.
Twelve people were killed in Berlin Christmas market by an asylum seeker in December. Tunisian government had earlier refused to take back Anis Amri, whose asylum bid was rejected. The event has put pressure on Mrs. Merkel’s government to take action against failed asylum seekers.
Angela Merkel will discuss a new 16-point plan to speed up deportations with state leaders later. The plan was leaked to German media and building a new deportation coordination center in Berlin is part of the scheme.
The plan could also include the formation of exit centers close to airports to hold rejected asylum seekers before the days or weeks they are deported.
A total of 90m euros will be spent this year on repatriation and reintegration programs, and more funds will be given to voluntary returnees who make their decisions quickly.
16 regional governments of Germany are responsible for deporting migrants whose application for asylum have been rejected.
The number of asylum seekers arriving in Germany was 890,000 in 2015. Angela Merkel kept open borders at a time when other European states were closing theirs; a move that led to decrease in her popularity and gave rise to an anti-immigration party Alternative for Germany (AfD).
But the main party posing a threat to Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union is Social Democrats; the party got strong ahead of the September election as the former EU Parliament President Martin Schulz was nominated to lead it last month, an announcement which led to a surge in support.
Some of the state governments that are led by Social Democrats oppose the deportation of Afghans who had their asylum applications rejected on the basis that their home country is not safe for return.
Afghans are the second largest asylum seekers after Syrians, 154,000 Afghans arrived in 2015. Almost all Syrians get asylum due to the ongoing civil war in the country.
The stats from the year 2015-16 show that 25,000 migrants were deported, while 55,000 migrants left Germany voluntarily (BAMF, Die Welt – Stats up to November 30)
The Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said on Thursday:
“The number of rejections is rising, so we have to do more about repatriations and deportations.”
The plan has been criticized by charities that help asylum seekers, claiming that wrong decisions are being made in the asylum determination process.
President of the Association of German Cities, Eva Lohse, thinks otherwise. She argues that repatriation of rejected asylum seekers was necessary to “gain the acceptance by residents of those who really need protection from war and persecution.”
According to the government statistics quoted by DPA (German Press Agency), 207,000 migrants were facing deportation at the end of 2016.