Germany debates tightening asylum laws

Wide-ranging changes to accelerate and tighten Germany’s asylum laws have been submitted to parliament. Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said “hard decisions” are needed to cope with migrant inflows.

Germany’s Bundestag began formal debate Thursday on reforms to the country’s asylum laws, including plans to reject applicants from “safe countries of origin” and expanding that list of countries to include Albania, Kosovo and Montenegro.

The intended Asylum Procedure Acceleration Law seeks to shorten asylum application waiting periods, sharpen deportations of those rejected, and improve integration of recognized refugees into German society.

“We are clearly committed to integrating those who are worthy of protection,” Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere told lawmakers. He also added, however, that those deemed unworthy of refuge would have to leave the country.

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(Migrants await their fate at Freilassing’s train station in Germany near a billboard by charity groups urging Germans to support refugees. It reads: ‘The biggest catastrophe is forgetting. 12 million people from Syria and Iraq are fleeing. We must support them’. Photo: L. Ramirez/VOA)