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Interior minister proposes changes to deportations from Germany

German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere has outlined government plans for changes in deportation and rights to stay for asylum seekers in Germany. A Bavarian proposal calls for four states to be ruled as 'safe.'

Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere outlined proposed changes on Friday to both refugees' right to remain in Germany and authorities ability to deport people from the country.

"We will protect those who really are in need of protection" said de Maiziere, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union.

He proposed the changes in the context of giving people he described as "well integrated and law-abiding" more opportunities to stay in Germany for a longer term. On the other hand, asylum seekers who tried to "trick and deceive" German officials must face the consequences, he said.

The government is also proposing measures to make it more straightforward to deport "criminal foreigners" de Maiziere said. The proposed law will also make it easier to deport people who do not have residence permits and prevent them from re-entering Germany.

A new, four-day "departure custody" is also being proposed under which people nearing the date of their deportation could be detained for up to four days. De Maiziere described the proposal as "entirely appropriate."

Lawmakers from Social Democratic Party, the junior governing coalition partners, said the proposals required some changes. But opposition members from The Left and Green parties said they were disproportionate. Ulla Jelpke for The Left described them as "a veritable detention program for asylum seekers."

De Maiziere defended the plans, which he said fell within European law.

Bavarian proposal

The State of Bavaria presented an initiative in the Chamber of States for a change to the right of asylum in Germany. It called for Kosovo, Albania and Montenegro to be declared "safe" states.

If the measure passes, asylum seekers from the three countries could have their applications rejected more quickly and be deported faster.

Residency status

A proposal that was welcomed across party lines was one to give foreigners who had lived in Germany for a long period without a secure residency permit, the right to stay.

The plan would apply to people who had lived in the country for eight years and could prove they were able to support themselves with a secure income. For teenagers and young adults the qualification period would be four years.

The bill is due to be discussed in the Bundestag, the lower house of parliament, on March 23.

jm/sms (epd, dpa)

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