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For the Moment, German Immigration Crisis Averted


FILE - German Chancellor Angela Merkel, right, talks to Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, left, prior to the weekly cabinet meeting at the chancellery in Berlin, June 13, 2018.

Europe's latest immigration crisis was at least temporarily defused Monday as German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she would hold talks with neighboring countries on migration issues after hardliners in her conservative governing bloc gave her a two-week deadline to tighten asylum rules.

Merkel said she does not want to see Germany unilaterally turn back migrants at its border, but Interior Minister Horst Seehofer has advocated the migrant ban in defiance of her, possibly threatening the 70-year alliance between the two conservative parties. She said that unjustifiably turning away migrants from the German border could have a domino effect elsewhere in Europe.

Merkel accepted an offer from Seehofer's Christian Social Union in Bavaria to delay until July the ban it wants to block migrants who have previously been registered in other European Union states from entering Germany.

She also agreed to a CSU demand for a ban on admitting people who earlier had been expelled from Germany. Merkel said she hopes to forge immigration agreements with other European countries before and at the upcoming EU summit late next week.

U.S. President Donald Trump, himself facing a growing outcry over his administration's policy of separating children from migrants illegally trying to enter the U.S. along its southern border with Mexico, weighed in with support for a tough European pushback against an unrestricted flow of immigrants to the continent.

"The people of Germany are turning against their leadership as migration is rocking the already tenuous Berlin coalition," he said on Twitter. "Crime in Germany is way up. Big mistake made all over Europe in allowing millions of people in who have so strongly and violently changed their culture!"

He added, "We don’t want what is happening with immigration in Europe to happen with us!"

In another tweet, Trump contended, "Children are being used by some of the worst criminals on earth as a means to enter our country. Has anyone been looking at the Crime taking place south of the border. It is historic, with some countries the most dangerous places in the world. Not going to happen in the U.S."

He blamed opposition Democrats in Congress for the conflict over U.S. immigration policy, saying, "It is the Democrats fault for being weak and ineffective with Boarder [sic] Security and Crime. Tell them to start thinking about the people devastated by Crime coming from illegal immigration. Change the laws!"

Trump has given no indication that the U.S. plans to shift its stance of separating parents from their children if they try to enter the country illegally, even as numerous lawmakers and political figures have decried the effort as inhumane. From mid-April to the end of May, immigration authorities have sent nearly 2,000 children to mass detention centers or foster care.

Former first lady Laura Bush said Sunday in a Washington Post opinion article, "I appreciate the need to enforce and protect our international boundaries, but this zero-tolerance policy is cruel. It is immoral. And it breaks my heart."

Trump's wife, first lady Melania Trump, said in a rare public policy statement through her spokeswoman that she "hates to see children separated from their families and hopes both sides of the [political] aisle [in Congress] can finally come together to achieve successful immigration reform. She believes we need to be a country that follows all laws, but also a country that governs with heart."

In 2015, Merkel famously said Germany was open to people fleeing wars and looking for better lives. Since then, a million asylum seekers have been admitted to Germany.

With Seehofer's conservative Christian Social Union calling for turning away some migrants at the country's border, Merkel faces tough decisions on how to cope with the influx.

Merkel wants the EU to find an equitable solution to the migrant crisis at its June 28-29 summit, although the EU has struggled to contend with the massive flow of refugees looking to its shores for better lives.

Europe's migrant situation received worldwide attention last week when Italy and Malta refused to allow a ship with hundreds of migrants aboard to dock at their ports, with Spain stepping in to accept the migrants.

Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said, "It is our duty to help avoid a humanitarian catastrophe and offer a safe port to these people to comply with our human rights obligations."