Exclusive German Government Tightens Asylum Rules

Germany’s coalition government Thursday night agreed on a new law to tighten rules for asylum seekers. Chancellor Angela Merkel and her deputy, Social Democrat Sigmar Gabriel, as well as Horst Seehofer, head of the Bavarian CSU party, reached an agreement that will speed up deportations and limit family reunions. Refugees who have not been personally persecuted but still have a chance to be granted asylum for humanitarian reasons won’t be allowed to bring their families to Germany for the first two years, Mr. Gabriel said Thursday night in a press statement. This was a major demand by the conservative CSU , the Bavarian sister party of Ms. Merkel’s CDU. Mr. Seehofer and his party have repeatedly called on Germany to take a tougher stance on refugees and limit the intake of asylum seekers drastically. The heads of the coalition parties also agreed to declare Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria “safe countries of origin,” meaning that their citizens don’t have a right to asylum in Germany. Deportations of asylum seekers from these countries will be sped up under the new law. But the new deal also offers incentives for those that come to find work. People coming to Germany as asylum seekers who successfully complete a three-year professional apprenticeship will be allowed to work in the country for two years afterwards, independent of the final asylum decision, Mr. Gabriel said. The draft law will be submitted to parliament for approval soon, he said. After the meeting of the party heads, Ms. Merkel was due to meet with Germany’s 16 state premiers to discuss the refugee crisis later Thursday night.