German coalition talks trip over immigration stumbling block
Migrants and refugees have been Germany’s toughest political issue since a mass influx from 2015 brought some 1.2 million asylum seekers, sparking a backlash that has seen the far-right AfD party enter parliament.
Merkel’s CDU and especially their more conservative CSU allies from Bavaria, where tens of thousands of refugees crossed over the border from Austria, are pushing to limit Germany’s annual intake to a benchmark figure of 200,000.
The Greens, who have long promoted migrant rights and a multicultural society, finally appear ready to accept the figure.
But they will not budge on their demand for a resumption of family reunions for those who have been granted temporary refuge in Germany, something opposed by both the CSU and FDP.
Amid alarm last year over the record influx of refugees, Berlin suspended reunifications until March 2018 for war refugees like Syrians, granting them only a year’s temporary protection which is renewable depending on the situation in their home countries.
The Greens want the suspension lifted, with negotiator Juergen Trittin telling the Bild am Sonntag newspaper: “We will not accept that people who are already getting a lower status of protection by law are also excluded from family reunions. That is inhumane.”
They also reject a demand from the other parties to declare the North African nations of Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia “safe countries of origin”, which would raise the bar for asylum applications for their citizens.
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