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German Ministers Agree on Tougher Rules for Migrants Posing Risks


FILE - German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Justice Minister Heiko Maas, left, and Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere are pictured while making a statement after visiting the Bundeskriminalamt Federal Crime Office Police in Berlin, Dec. 22, 2016.

Germany's interior and justice ministers, representing the two blocs in Chancellor Angela Merkel's ruling coalition, agreed Tuesday on tougher measures for asylum seekers whose documents are not in order or who are deemed to pose a security threat.

Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere and Justice Minister Heiko Maas resolved to tighten the security rules after the Christmas market attack in Berlin, in which a failed Tunisian asylum seeker killed 12 people.

"We have agreed on the introduction of mandatory residency, in layman's terms: stricter domicile requirements for asylum seekers who have been deceptive with their identities," de Maiziere, a member of Merkel's conservatives, told reporters.

"Secondly, it will now be easier to take people into custody for deportation," he added after meeting Maas, a member of the Social Democrats, the junior partner in the coalition government.

German investigators identified the Berlin Christmas market attacker as a threat last February, but when officials subsequently met to discuss whether to deport him, they determined he posed no acute threat that could be presented in court, the Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported last week.

The new measures will make it easier for the authorities to electronically tag foreigners deemed a security risk and required to leave Germany but who have not yet left, de Maiziere said.

The Christmas market attack has thrown security policy into sharp focus ahead of September's federal elections. In addition to the tougher rules for failed asylum seekers, de Maiziere has proposed restructuring Germany's security setup.

Earlier Tuesday, Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann said Italy and Greece should if necessary be excluded from Europe's passport-free Schengen area if they do not fulfill their obligations to exchange data on criminals.

He said people traveling by air or over land should be checked at the borders of those countries if they do not comply. He called for a deadline of the end of this year.

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