The European Union should consider restricting visas for senior officials from African and other states which refuse to take back illegal immigrants from Europe, Germany’s interior minister said.
Thomas de Maiziere said in Brussels the EU needed to use all the levers at its disposal to ensure countries cooperated with Europe’s efforts to deport those arriving who were not entitled to asylum.
Last Thursday, Thomas de Maiziere appeared in front of the German parliament to argue for a new draft law that would impose stricter rules on asylum seekers. De Maiziere said that the German public would only support Germany’s generous asylum policies if the government enforced deportation regulations and protected German society against potential threats from migrants.
The draft law, said de Maiziere, was a response to “the case of Anis Amri and the terror attacks on Breitscheidplatz on December 19,” which stressed identity determination, deportation and surveillance of people determined to be potential threats.
“I think it’s not too much to ask that people who want asylum from us tell us their true names,” De Maiziere said with reference to Amri’s use of multiple identities. “And if they don’t, it has to have consequences.”
De Maiziere said that “asylum and returning people to their home countries are two sides of the same coin.” He defended controversial proposals to use data from migrants’ mobile phones to determine who they are, comparing such examinations to customs checks of people’s baggage at borders.
Checking people’s phones was “not excessive,” de Maiziere said, characterizing it “only fair.” De Maiziere also said the new rules would allow for the use of electronic ankle tags to monitor foreigners considered possible risks.
With hundreds of thousands of migrants arriving on Europe’s beaches every year, European governments have grown increasingly irritated at refusals by some African and Asian states to take back people who do not qualify for refugee status but who often destroy their documents to make it harder to deport them.
“If a country is not ready to take its own citizens back, it has to understand that visa policies which allow travel to Europe are not as generous as they used to be, maybe even for the country’s leadership,” de Maiziere said.