German lawmakers imposed changes Saturday as this year’s wave of migrants shows no sign of letting up.
BERLIN — Tougher rules governing asylum requests in Germany went into effect on Saturday, a week earlier than planned.
Under the rules, asylum seekers will be required to stay longer in reception centers and receive allowances in kind rather than cash, while people arriving from Kosovo, Macedonia and Albania will face quicker repatriation because their countries have been deemed safe.
The measures were initially expected to go into effect Nov. 1. But German lawmakers rushed the new rules through the parliament because a wave of hundreds of thousands of migrants does not seem to be letting up.
Estimates of expected asylum requests vary between 800,000 and 1.5 million for Germany this year, up from just over 200,000 in 2014.
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Starting now, immigration officers will not announce when they intend to repatriate failed applicants to prevent them from escaping.
The law also hopes to speed up the procedure for applicants who are likely to be successful and offer them integration courses even before a decision has been made on their status.
On Sunday, a meeting convened by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker will bring German officials together with those of nine other European Union countries to discuss the refugee crisis.
They are expected to consider creating a new border-control mission at the Greek frontier with Albania and Macedonia, according to a draft statement prepared for the talks in Brussels.
The congestion has led to bottlenecks and tensions among Balkan countries, with migrants left out in the mud, rain and cold.