The German state of Bavaria could use small private jets to deport rejected asylum seekers, the state’s prime minister said on Monday in a bid to put further pressure on Angela Merkel over her liberal immigration policies.
Markus Söder, the premier of the conservative southern German state, said that Bavaria would take unilateral action on migration a month after it emerged that some 1,200 asylum cases had been wrongly approved after bribes were allegedly paid.
“We want to increase the deportation pressure all together, thus becoming a model for other federal states,” Mr Söder told Munich’s Merkur newspaper.
Although Mr Söder declined to provide details on the numbers of planes involved, he said that Bavaria could use small aircrafts to deport rejected asylum seekers, rather than waiting on the more cumbersome federal bureaucratic procedures.
“This would organise the deportation so that it is significantly more effective and more targeted,” he said, adding that the policy was intended to make Bavaria a less attractive place to apply for asylum.
Anyone who uses violence against police or security forces in reception facilities would forfeit their right to hospitality, he added. Asylum applicants would also lose their current cash grants to be replaced with a chip card which could only be used to buy food and clothing.
Mr Söder’s statements came ahead of a state cabinet meeting on Tuesday, in which Bavaria is slated to launch its own reform plan for an asylum seekers, using state-level powers to conduct deportations.
As part of the plan, the state government would also train more state police officers to assist with deportation proceedings, in addition to setting up more detention centres to hold rejected asylum seekers in secure accommodation.
The tougher line echoes growing calls for a fresh approach to asylum claims from across Europe, where anti-immigration parties have made big electoral gains in Hungary, Italy, Austria and Slovenia in the last year.
Mr Söder became prime minister of Bavaria in March after the CSU made a poor showing in local elections which was widely blamed on a failure to address the migration issue after four years in coalition with Mrs Merkel’s CDU. Traditionally they form a coalition within the federal government since the CDU does not campaign in Bavaria and the CSU does not outside of Bavaria.
Pressure to act independently on immigration has been growing since May after it emerged that 1,200 asylum seekers were were illegally granted right to remain by a a field office in Bremen, northern Germany allegedly in exchange for bribes.
Mrs Merkel has herself come under fire for the scandal which has been largely attributed to staffing shortages at the country’s Office for Immigration and Refugees (BAMF).
Mr Söder has a reputation for highlighting Bavaria’s own identity politics, which its longstanding conservative Christian culture which is out of step with much of liberal western and northern Germany.
The CSU’s decision to up the ante on migration came as Germany’s opposition Free Democrats (FDP) called for a parliamentary inquiry into Mrs Merkel’s migrant policy following the Bremen scandal.
“We think it’s necessary to get to the bottom of what happened, including the political responsibility – right up to the chancellery,” said Christian Lindner, the FDP leader.