Germany is examining if Syrians convicted of crimes in Europe’s biggest economy or who are deemed dangerous can be sent back to their conflict-torn country, Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said Friday.
“That is being looked at closely in our ministry,” Seehofer told newspaper group Redaktions Netzwerk Deutschland (RND).
Tens of thousands of Syrians have sought asylum in Germany, with the biggest influx taking place in 2015.
A ban on expulsions to Syria has been in place as war rages there, but the restriction runs out at the end of the year.
Germany would then need to consider whether to extend the ban, and the foreign ministry’s assessment of the situation in Syria would be crucial in the decision.
But several high-profile crimes involving migrants have soured the public mood in Germany, prompting interior ministers of several states to push for the expulsion of asylum seekers who have been convicted.
“Once the security situation allows, dangerous individuals and criminals can be sent back to Syria,” Saxony state’s interior minister Roland Woeller told RND.
Idlib and some surrounding areas are the last major rebel bastions in Syria, where the Russian-backed government has in recent months retaken much of the territory it had lost since the civil war erupted in 2011.
Berlin in 2016 signed a controversial deal with Kabul to repatriate Afghans who had failed to obtain asylum, even though Afghanistan remains strangled by violence.