Merkel’s cabinet approves faster migrant deportations – Deutsche Welle

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet on Wednesday approved a package of measures that will accelerate the deportation of rejected asylum-seekers while making it easier for security forces to track those awaiting a decision on their application for asylum.

The new measures will allow security forces to check the cellphone data of new arrivals, while those who have been rejected may be kept in custody for up to 10 days to prevent them from absconding. Rules on surveillance of asylum-seekers will also be eased to allow those under suspicion to be watched more easily, and deportations will be carried out directly from initial reception centers wherever possible. 

Peter Altmaier, the head of the Chancellor’s Office and the government’s coordinator of refugee affairs, said over the weekend that he expects Germany to deport a record number of people in 2017. There is, however, still some debate overwhich countries people can be sent to if their asylum applications are rejected with many questioning the return of migrants to Afghanistan. A group of 50 people is set to be flown to Afghanistan from Munich later on Wednesday.

Wednesday’s decision effectively approved a series of agreements made jointly by leaders of Germany’s federal and state governments two weeks ago.

The package was harshly criticized by refugee rights’ organizations. Pro Asyl called the new legislation a “brutalization of the deportation process.”

“The agreed package of measures for tougher deportation policies is a program that will deprive asylum-seekers of hope for protection in Germany and is aimed at discouraging them,” the organization said in a statement.

Germany’s main opposition party, the socialist Left party, also condemned the plan.

“Cellphones and computers belong to a particularly protected area of privacy,” party leader Katja Kipping told the DPA news agency. The government’s plan amounted to “sacrificing basic rights on the altar of domestic security.” 

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