Germany's Merkel announces plans to speed up deportations

It must be an election year in Germany. Chancellor Angela Merkel has agreed to a plan to speed up deportations of immigrants whose claims for refugee status have been rejected. From Deutsche Welle:

One of the main tenets of the 16-point plan concerns a central coordination center in Berlin that would include representatives from each state. Additionally, the plan calls for federal deportation centers to be set up near airports to facilitate collective deportations…

The plan would also make it easier to deport migrants who have been deemed as threats, and increase incentives for “voluntary returns,” where migrants receive money if they choose to leave Germany before receiving a final ruling on their asylum application.

Merkel emphasized voluntary returns Thursday but added, “We know, however, that nobody will volunteer to return to their home country if there isn’t also a forced deportation scheme in place.”

This shift toward speedier deportation comes after an attacker drove a truck through a Berlin Christmas market on December 19th, killing 12 people. The driver of the truck was eventually identified as Anis Amri, a Tunisian who had been under surveillance and who was scheduled to be deported months before the attack. He was not deported because he had multiple fake identities and Tunisia initially refused to acknowledge he was a citizen.

On New Year’s Eve, Merkel addressed the nation saying “Islamic terrorism” was the country’s most difficult challenge. One year earlier, more than 1,200 women in Cologne, Germany reported being sexually assaulted by immigrant men during New Year’s Eve celebrations. Similar attacks took place in other cities around Germany on the same night.

The German election will take place in September.