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CDU's Strobl under fire for hardliner asylum stance

CDU politician Thomas Strobl's proposals for a tougher asylum policy have been strongly censured by other parties. And even some in his own party find that they go too far.

Proposals to toughen laws on deporting failed asylum seekers put forward by a Christian Democrat (CDU) state politician have met with vehement criticism both from other parties and from his party colleagues.

In a paper for presentation at the national CDU conference at the start of December, Thomas Strobl, who is interior minister and deputy premier of the German state of Baden-Württemberg, proposed not only making deportations easier, but also cutting social welfare and building a repatriation center in Egypt.

The paper also contained plans for deporting failed asylum seekers even if they are ill, provided they were already sick when they arrived in Germany. In addition, Strobl proposed stripping foreigners who returned to their home countries for a holiday, for example, of their asylum status.

'Who can be the most un-Christian party?'

The Green party in Baden-Württemberg, which is the CDU's partner in the state's coalition government, said the paper did not represent the stance of the coalition.

"It has nothing to do with the government's planned actions," said a spokesman for premier Winfried Kretschmann.

Strobl's ideas also drew criticism at the national level, with Social Democrat (SPD) General Secretary Katarina Barley accusing the CDU of "using populist slogans" like its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU).

SPD Secretary General Katarina Barley (picture-alliance/dpa/F.v. Erichsen)

Barley is unimpressed by Strobl's plans

"Parts of the CDU and the CSU seem to be in a competition to see who can be the most un-Christian party in Germany," she said on Monday, adding that she expected "clarification" from Chancellor Angela Merkel, who leads the CDU.

She said decisions had already been taken by the ruling CDU-SPD coalition to ensure that those who cannot remain in Germany were made to leave quickly, and advised Strobl to concentrate his energy on implementing them.

'Going it alone'

The chairman of the conference of German interior ministers is due to take place on Tuesday, Klaus Bouillon, said Strobl was going it alone with his plans.

He told broadcaster SWR on Tuesday that the proposals would not be discussed at the conference "by any means."

"They are sure to be discussed in 'fireside chats,' but opinions on this issue are clearly very different," he said.

Bouillon, also a CDU member and the interior minister in the state of Saarland, said that there were "clear legal rules" governing the treatment of ill asylum seekers.

Strobl's ideas met with approval, however, from the ultra-conservative CSU, with CSU General Secretary Andreas Scheuer calling them "correct and important."

"The interior ministers and the CDU should adopt the proposals, as they will bring us much closer to an improved control, organization and restriction of immigration," he said.

tj/kl (Reuters, dpa)