The latest hard-line policy proposed by Germany’s opposition CDU party would see social benefits to asylum seekers become contingent on their willingness to work and integrate into society, according to a report by the German newspaper Bild.
Prominent members of the party have called for work to be compulsory for all asylum seekers, while others believe that payments should be cut if migrants refuse.
“It is important for us districts and would help with social acceptance if refugees get work quickly, alternatively also in non-profit organizations,” said Joachim Walter, the president of the CDU district council, who questioned whether the social benefits Germany gives new arrivals “always provide the right incentives for refugees.”
Walter’s view was echoed by Alexander Dobrindt, the head of the CSU state group in the Bundestag, who proposed that social welfare payments be linked with a refugee’s willingness to work, insisting they have a “duty to cooperate” and integrate into society.
“An offer of work must be part of the integration process. If this offer is not accepted, there must be cuts in benefits,” said Dobrindt.
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The proposal found some cross-party support within the FDP, which is currently a member of the federal coalition government with the SPD and the Green party, and also among municipal leaders.
FDP MP Stephan Thomae agreed that lawmakers should aim “to control migration in such a way that there is no immigration into the social systems, but into the German labor market instead,” while Steffen Jäger, the president of the Baden-Württemberg municipal council, also offered his support.
“Our welfare state helps those who need help. However, the state must be able to expect that every individual will then also contribute to the success of society within the scope of their possibilities. For example, through charitable work,” he added.
The policy is the latest in a number of attempts by the CDU to take charge of the immigration debate and wrestle back control from the rising Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, which is leading the narrative and winning voters at considerable speed.
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Last week, Thorsten Frei, the deputy chairman of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group in the Bundestag, called for the European Union to abolish the right to asylum for those arriving illegally in the bloc and instead introduce quotas whereby the most vulnerable refugees are taken directly from source countries.
He explained that under such a policy, individuals would no longer be eligible for asylum by simply arriving in Europe, and social benefits for newcomers arriving using current migratory routes would be “comprehensively ruled out.”