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German government pushes for new refugee IDs

German cabinet ministers have backed a proposal to introduce a new type of identification for all refugees in the country. The proposed bill also envisions a central database to store information on the newcomers.

The draft law is meant to improve data sharing between officials handling asylum-seekers, German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said on Wednesday.

The legislation, proposed by the minister, would create new identification documents for the

immigrants arriving to Germany.

The new paper ID's would include a photo, as well as information on height and eye color.

Registration centers would also take fingerprints.

"This way we can try to better detect people who are trying to disguise their identity," de Maiziere said in a statement.

The refugees would soon need the new documents to claim government benefits, the minister added.

Connected with the labor market

The draft, which the cabinet agreed to on Wednesday, calls for compiling data on refugees and collecting it in a comprehensive database.

This database would include professional qualifications, electronically saved fingerprints, information on religion and nationality, as well as on immunizations and health check-ups.

The German Labor Office would also have access to the data.

In addition, the authorities would store the information in its central system immediately after registering the refugees.

Under current regulations, data is stored centrally only after an immigrant officially applies for asylum, which can take months.

Vote in January

The German parliament, the Bundestag, and the Bundesrat, the upper house of parliament representing the 16 German states, are set to vote on the legislation in January. The government hopes to start introducing the identity cards by February.

Germany has been struggling with the refugee crisis. The number of newcomers is expected to top one million this year alone.

The officials hope that the proposed measures would streamline the bureaucratic process, which has sparked

criticism both in and outside the government.

dj/gb (epd, dpa, Reuters, AFP)

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