Germany can't cope with refugee family reunification demands: minister
Germany's interior minister called Wednesday for family reunification rights of Syrian asylum seekers to be limited, saying the country cannot cope with a doubling of its already record refugee numbers.
"No one knows how many people in Syria and its bordering states are waiting for their family reunification applications to be approved," said Thomas de Maiziere.
"We cannot double or triple our already high refugee numbers through family reunification," he said, calling for a debate among Germany's governing coalition partners on the controversial issue.
"To say that everyone who comes from Syria can bring their family members even though we don't have sufficient guarantees to provide them with livelihoods -- that, given the high number of Syrians, is no longer viable," he added.
Germany is expecting up to one million asylum seekers this year, but the influx has strained resources and opened up fault-lines within the Chancellor Angela Merkel's coalition on how the country can cope.
De Maiziere's suggestion of limiting family reunification rights rankles junior coalition partner the Social Democrats, which believe that those fleeing war like the Syrians should have the inalienable right of getting their family members to join them.
But the minister argues that it would not be right for Germany to promise such family reunifications only to see new arrivals ending up in a spiral of "unemployment and a future with no prospects".
"It is important not to overburden our society," he told parliament.
While he agreed that those granted full refugee status should be allowed to bring their immediate family members, de Maiziere warned that "the process will be a very, very long one".
© 2015 AFP