Germany is working on record deportations in 2017

Germany is working on record deportations in 2017Germany is preparing huge deportations with unprecedented numbers of people, who were rejected asylum, to be deported from Germany in the coming months, Deutsche Welle reported on Sunday.

The comment was made by Peter Altmaier, the head of the Chancellor's Office and the government's coordinator on refugee affairs, in an interview with the Sunday edition of Bild newspaper.

"Last year, 80,000 people whose applications for asylum were rejected returned to their countries of origin," Altmaier said.

"That was a record, and the numbers will continue to rise. In 2016, some 700,000 applications for asylum were made, and almost 300,000 were rejected. We want to deport these people swiftly. Otherwise it hurts the credibility of our country and its laws," he added.

The announcement came as Chancellor Angela Merkel's welcoming policy toward refugees has hurt her popularity in front of 2017 general election.
Part of her Christian Democratic Union's electoral strategy is to argue that Merkel's relatively open-door stance is a thing of the past.

"2015 was the year of humanitarian help for people in desperate situations," Altmaier said.

"In 2016 we dramatically reduced the numbers of refugees and laid the groundwork for the integration of those to whom asylum was granted. Now the focus is on getting those who don't have a right to protection to leave," he added.

If the government had its wish, rejected asylum seekers would depart Germany of their own free will. The use of financial incentives helped convince some 50,000 of the 80,000 people Altmaier cites to opt for what's somewhat euphemistically called "voluntary return."

However, many of those denied the right to remain in Germany won't leave unless deported. But the German constitution, as well as international law, forbids sending them back to places where they are in danger. So the government needs to show that countries of origin are safe enough to proceed in good conscience. And there is considerable dissent in Germany about which parts of the world are truly secure.

Although everyone who files an application for political asylum in Germany can have his or her case heard by the federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF), it's far easier for the government to reject applicants who come from places that have officially been deemed safe.

Statistics illustrate the situation. Three-quarters of asylum applicants in 2016 came from Syria, Afghanistan or Iraq, and 96 percent of applicants from Syria were deemed in need of protection in 2015. In contrast, according to German government figures, the largest numbers of people deported in the first half of 2016 were sent back to Albania, Kosovo and Serbia. They are all officially considered "safe countries of origin," and less than one percent of people applying for asylum from there were found to be in need of protection in 2015.
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