Leaders of Germany’s coalition government met on Monday to discuss tightening up asylum laws and speeding up the judical process, following the New Year’s Eve attacks on women in Cologne and other German cities by men of mostly North African and Arab origin, some of them asylum seekers.
The proposed changes could be discussed in parliament as early as Wednesday.
Germany’s chancellor and head of the Christian Democratic Union, Angela Merkel, emerged from a weekend’s closed-door party meeting in Mainz with a tough message to asylum seekers – abide by the law or be prepared to leave.
Among the measures the conservative party discussed in what has been dubbed the “Mainz Declaration” is a rule that asylum seekers who commit crimes, regardless of their severity, would forfeit their right to protection and be deported, even in cases where the punishment is a suspended sentence.
Guido Wolf, a Christian Democrat running for state premier of Baden-Württemberg, referred to the party’s consensus on changing asylum laws as a “turning point.”
Hessen’s state premier, Volker Bouffier, added: “Cologne has changed everything.”