German lawmakers on Thursday approved a series of measures to strengthen the country’s immigration policy, where the number of asylum seekers has risen sharply in the past year.
The increase of more than 50% in asylum applications in Germany last year, together with the reception of one million refugees in Ukraine, put the capacity of the local authorities to the test.
The move responds in part to pressure from the AfD (Alternative for Germany) party, which has experienced a sharp rise in the polls.
“We will make sure that people who do not have the right to remain in our country will be forced to leave as soon as possible,” Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said on Thursday about the plan that seeks to “deport faster and more effectively.”
Deporting people who are denied the right to asylum in their countries of origin will free up resources for people Germany needs to take in, Faeser said.
“Those fleeing war and terrorism can count on our support,” added Faeser, a member of Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s Social Democratic Party, which heads a coalition of Greens and Liberals.
The measures adopted give more powers to the police to search for people ordered to leave the country and identify immigrants.
In addition, the maximum length of detention before deportation will increase from 10 to 28 days to give the authorities more time to organize deportations.
Human rights associations criticized these new provisions, and the German Lawyers Association said there was no “proportionality.”
The government estimates that this set of measures will allow 600 more deportations per year
Faeser noted that stricter enforcement of the current policy led to a 27% increase in expulsions last year, to a total of 16,430.
According to official figures, 329,120 new asylum requests were registered in 2023.