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Germany’s 1st immigration law tops agenda of next coalition

Some top members of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative bloc and possible coalition partners have supported the idea of an immigration law that would stem the flow of refugees.

Merkel managed to secure a fourth term in office as her conservative Christian Union (CDU/CSU) bloc won the September 24 vote clouded by the rise of the far-right. She is considering sharing power with the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) and environmentalist Greens.

Among their multiple differences, migration is shaping up as a major obstacle due to the insistence of the conservatives’ Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), on a refugee cap, a matter rejected by the other parties as well as Merkel.

President Frank-Walter Steinmeier brought the issue to the fore on Tuesday, saying in a speech that the German policy must be able to differentiate between political refugees and economic migrants so as to “define legal access to Germany.”

The call was welcomed by the Greens’ co-leader Cem Ozdemir, who has long pushed for an immigration law.

“That would be a wise step,” Ozdemir told Deutschlandfunk radio on Wednesday, saying that implementing the idea would be an urgent priority for the next government.

Over a million refugees and asylum seekers crossed into Germany in 2015 and most of them stayed in the country.

The flow of refugees into Germany only subsided in March 2016, when Merkel led a European Union agreement with Turkey to send back refugees sailing from Turkish shores to Greece. Estimates say about a million refugees, mainly from Syria and Iraq, arrived in Germany over the last two years.

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