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German parliament approves legislation easing deportations of rejected asylum seekers

General view of the plenary chamber in the Bundestag, at the Reichstag building in Berlin, Germany, Thursday, Jan. 18, 2024. The German parliament on Thursday approved legislation that is intended to ease deportations of unsuccessful asylum-seekers as Chancellor Olaf Scholz seeks to defuse migration as a political problem. (Kay Nietfeld/dpa via AP)

BERLIN (AP) — The German parliament on Thursday approved legislation that is intended to ease deportations of unsuccessful asylum-seekers as Chancellor Olaf Scholz seeks to defuse migration as a political problem.

The legislation foresees increasing the maximum length of pre-deportation custody from 10 to 28 days and specifically facilitating the deportation of people who are members of a criminal organization.

It also authorizes residential searches for documentation that enables officials to firmly establish a person’s identity, as well as remove authorities’ obligation to give advance notice of deportations in some cases.

Germany’s 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 Russia’s war in their homeland.

The majority of rejected asylum-seekers in Germany will still have at least temporary permission to stay for reasons that can include illness, a child with residency status or a lack of ID.

It remains to be seen how much difference the new rules will make. Deportations can fail for a variety of reasons, including those the legislation addresses but also a lack of cooperation by migrants’ home countries. Germany is trying to strike agreements with various nations to address that problem while also creating opportunities for legal immigration.

The parliament's vote Thursday comes at a time when tens of thousands of people in Germany have protested against alleged far-right plans to deport millions of immigrants, including some with German citizenship, as reported by an investigative media outlet last week. Scholz sharply condemned the plot drawn at the meeting in November, which allegedly also included members of the far-right Alternative for Germany, or AfD, party.

The German parliament is set to vote Friday on legislation that would ease citizenship rules — a project that the government contends will bolster the integration of immigrants and help an economy that is struggling with a shortage of skilled workers.

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