German Chancellor Angela Merkel is planning to introduce new procedures that aim to speed up the deportation of failed asylum seekers. These plans are emerging as her party aims to portray a harder stance on border security and immigration ahead of the elections in September.

  • Repatriation a priority for failed asylum seekers
  • Merkel under pressure as she falls behind in polls ahead of election

The two recent terror incidents in Germany – the Berlin Christmas market truck attack and the country’s first suicide bombing in Ansbach – were both carried out by migrants whose asylum bids were rejected but who had not yet been deported. Both attackers had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State.

Merkel is meeting the 16 leaders of the country’s federal states on Thursday evening to discuss a detailed plan addressing problems with the current deportation system, currently being handled at the state level.

A report leaked to the German media has thrown up some key measures:

  • There will be a federal center established for co-ordinating deportations across Germany.
  • Officials will have access to asylum seekers’ phones to aid in identification.
  • There will be exit centres near airports created to prepare asylum seekers for deportation.
  • Financial incentives will be granted to migrants who choose to return home voluntarily. Currently Germany pays the cost of travel and often the start-up costs of those who return, this would add to that policy.

So far Germany has taken in more than a million refugees and migrants since Merkel declared an “open door” policy in 2015, at a time when many European nations were closing borders.

However, following a number of crimes committed by migrants including mass sexual assaults in Cologne, murders and terror attacks – Merkel’s own party, the Christian Democratic Union, have wanted a tougher stance on immigration with the repatriation of rejected asylum seekers a priority.

“The number of rejections is rising, so we have to do more about repatriations and deportations,” Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said Thursday.

“The large number of asylum seekers who came to Germany in 2015 continues to pose big challenges to the federal government, states and communities,” the chancellery wrote.  “It requires a national effort to reach additional improvements.”

Merkel’s pressure

The anti-migrant sentiment has propelled the right wing party, Alternative for Germany, into the mainstream. They are predicted to be a major challenge to the political establishment.

Additionally, the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) who currently govern in a grand coalition with Merkel’s party, are emerging as the biggest threat to Merkel’s leadership.

For the first time Merkel is behind in the polls 31 percent to 30, chasing the SPD after they announced Martin Schulz, the former President of the European Parliament, as their leader last month.

Merkel’s party view immigration as an issue that it can use to win back voters as five states in Germany controlled by the SPD are trying to block the government from sending back rejected asylum seekers to Afghanistan citing that the country is too dangerous to send people back to. Merkel had presented a deal with Afghanistan to accept the returnees.