The German parliament is to vote on new and tighter regulations on asylum procedures. The package of legislation has met with severe criticism from some opposition members as being inhumane.
The package of new asylum legislation is going to the vote on Thursday following months of debate, with some opposition parties criticizing the proposed regulations as "immoral and illegal."
The legislation is intended to facilitate asylum procedures and make it easier to deport migrants whose claim to asylum has not been recognized by the German state.
Among other things, it foresees the setting up of special reception centers across the country in which asylum applications by certain groups of asylum-seekers would be processed within three weeks. Those affected would be people from so-called "safe countries of origin" or asylum-seekers who have refused to help authorities process their applications.
Hurdles to family reunification
A major bone of contention has been a proposal to suspend family reunification for two years in the case of asylum-seekers who have limited protection under German law because they are not considered to be "personally persecuted." The planned legislation would also apply to minors seeking to be reunited with their parents in Germany.
Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere has defended the proposed law, saying it would deter parents from sending their children to Germany ahead of them on what is often a perilous journey.
The parliament, or Bundestag, is also expected to pass an amendment allowing non-German nationals who have committed a crime to be deported more easily. The amendment was proposed following the wave of sexual attacks on New Year's Eve in Cologne,which has been largely attributed to offenders coming from northern Africa.
Despite the widespread criticism of the new package of asylum legislation, a majority of the coalition government are expected to vote in favor. If the Bundestag approves the measures, the laws will still need to be passed by the upper house, the Bundesrat, on Friday.
tj/jil (Reuters, epd)