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Merkel's cabinet passes measures to faster migrant deportations

Merkel's cabinet passes measures to faster migrant deportationsGerman 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, Deutsche Welle reported.

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.

Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere, whose department was instrumental in drawing up the measures, said he expected the German parliament to pass them into law "quickly." He also underlined that Germany's refugee policy was always two-fold: integrating those who need help while deporting those whose applications had been rejected.

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."
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