BERLIN (Reuters) - The right-wing opposition Alternative for Germany (AfD) party said on Monday Germany should shut its borders to asylum-seekers who want to enter via safe third countries, as well as reinstate border controls to stem a record influx of refugees.
Germany, Europe’s biggest and richest economy with relatively liberal asylum laws and generous benefits, expects around 800,000 asylum seekers to arrive this year - equivalent to around one percent of its population and by far the most of any EU state affected by the migrant wave this year.
The AfD, which is hovering between 3 and 4.5 percent in opinion polls, issued a proposed programme that stipulates: “The right to apply for asylum in Germany should be revoked.”
To “bring the asylum chaos under control”, the AfD proposal said asylum seekers would have to apply in German embassies in their countries of origin or to EU or U.N. institutions. If war or other circumstances made that impossible, they would have to go to a German embassy in a neighbouring country.
Any attempts to apply for asylum at German borders should be rejected and the people concerned refused entry, the AfD said.
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government has welcomed migrants and is letting Syrians seek asylum regardless of where they enter the EU, suspending normal rules and accelerating a flow of migrants north and west from the edges of the bloc.
While many Germans have welcomed the refugees, there have also been some attacks on shelters. A poll published last week showed half of Germans were worried the surging number of asylum seekers in the country is overwhelming them and authorities.
The AfD said decisions should be made within 48 hours on applications and those who apply without proof of nationality and identity should be rejected within the same time frame.
Asylum seekers should only get non-cash benefits, it said.
The AfD also said all costs caused by asylum seekers should be refunded by countries from which the migrants travelled to Germany or Brussels should reduce Germany’s EU contributions by that amount.
The AfD was established in 2013 to oppose financial bailouts to ailing euro zone countries like Greece and at its peak was drawing around 9 percent in opinion polls.
But it has lost some popularity of late, largely due to internal feuding which resulted in founder Bernd Lucke quitting the party earlier this year and complaining of rising xenophobia within the AfD.
Reporting by Michelle Martin; Editing by Mark Heinrich