BERLIN (AP) — German lawmakers approved a measure Thursday extending rules limiting migrants’ rights to bring close relatives to the country, paving the way for a new migrant plan this summer agreed to between Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Union bloc and the center-left Social Democrats.
The measure proposed by Merkel’s conservatives passed 376 to 298, extends the current temporary ban on relatives joining migrants whose status in Germany is below full asylum. The ban will stay until new rules come into effect in August allowing 1,000 migrant relatives in per month.
The suspension of family reunification rules for people with “subsidiary protection” was instituted in early 2016, after Germany was overwhelmed with the arrival of 890,000 asylum-seekers from the year before.
The issue has been a major point of contention between Merkel’s conservatives and the Social Democrats, but they were able to agree this week in coalition talks to form a new government. Under that plan, in addition to allowing in 1,000 relatives per month for migrants whose status is less than full asylum, they will also allow in additional people considered hardship cases.
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Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere had pushed for parliament to extend the suspension to pave the way for the new agreement, calling it a fair compromise.
“Our compromise stands for humanity and accountability, for integration and limitations,” he said.
Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union and Bavarian-only Christian Social Union hope to wrap up coalition negotiations with the Social Democrats by Sunday, although it may take longer.
The Social Democrats’ membership will need to approve any coalition agreement. If they do, officials say they hope to be able to form the new government by Easter.
This version corrects the vote count to 376 to 298, not 678 to 376.