Germany’s cabinet has moved to make it much easier to deport non-citizens convicted of crimes. The move comes after public outrage at New Years Eve’s sexual assaults and attacks that were linked to migrants.
If adopted, the measure would allow deportation of any non-citizens convicted of sexual assault, homicide, other bodily harm or shoplifting, reports The New York Times.
Non-citizens who resist police will also risk deportation, as will those who make threats or engage in deception.
The law would not apply to European Union citizens, reports Reuters.
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Germany is currently harboring over 1 million migrants, mostly fleeing poverty and violence. While other European countries seek to curb the influx of asylum-seekers, more continue to immigrate to Germany.
German Justice Minister Heiko Mass defended the proposed law as beneficial to migrants and German citizens alike.
“This also helps to protect the hundreds of thousands of refugees who live respectable lives among us. They do not deserve to be lumped together with criminals,” Mass said.
Anyone convicted of a crime will not be able to apply for or receive asylum under the new law. Non-citizens with jail sentences of at least one year would also be deported from Germany.
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“Nobody among us should be above the spirit and the letter of the law. If they are criminal foreigners, in future they will be threatened with even faster deportation,” the Justice Minister said in a statement.
The assaults on New Year’s Eve, which have been linked to migrants, have drawn criticism toward German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s open-door policy to migrants. More than 600 women have filed complaints of being assaulted in Cologne and other German cities, reports Swiss Info.
Critics of Merkel’s proposed policy argue that the measure does not do enough to ensure deportation of criminals. If a migrant comes from a country that is deemed unsafe, like Syria, he or she cannot be deported there, regardless of criminal status.
The new measure must be passed by the Bundestag’s lower house to move forward, and is expected to pass with the backing of Merkel.