By Alexandra Kilpatrick
April 29, 2016
Credit : Flickr user German Embassy London

According to a government coordinator for migrant issues in Germany, the country should increase the number of deportations of migrants whose asylum applications have been rejected. The official, Peter Altmaier, specifically recommended doubling last year’s deportation numbers.

About 22,200 refugees were deported from Germany in 2015, while 37,220 refugees returned home voluntarily, Peter Altmaier told the Funke Media group of newspapers.

“A realistic benchmark for 2016 would be a doubling of these numbers–that’s where the states must take action,” Altmaier told Funke Media.

About 1.1 million refugees entered Germany in 2015. The country is trying to speed up the process of either granting these refugees asylum or sending them home if they are unqualified. A large majority of the deported refugees originally came from the Balkans. Germany clarified that it would only offer asylum to refugees fleeing conflict or persecution, not refugees fleeing poverty.

Germany is working on negotiations with Afghanistan that would allow Afghans from parts of the country now considered safe to return home, but a deal has not been struck yet. The country has also seen the number of new refugees drop sharply. Officials say that the drop is caused by the closure of the Balkan refugee route.

The European Union’s new deal with Turkey is attempting to curb the number of refugees coming into Europe.

“It’s working better than everyone expected,” Altmaier told Funke Media. The deal has received plenty of criticism since its implementation and many would-be refugees have been left in limbo along the coast of Turkey.

“Our goal was and is to clearly reduce the number of refugees,” Altmaier said. “That seems to be happening.”

In the United States, AmeriCorps and Iowa refugee groups partnered in the fall to create an organization called RefugeeRISE, dedicated to helping better train refugees and build Iowa’s workforce. The large majority (75 percent) of refugees to the United States find work within six months and those with access to organizations like RefugeeRISE are more likely to become self-sufficient even faster.

RefugeeRISE pairs one native English speaker with a refugee to help provide services, education, training and self-sufficiency counseling. A bill pending at the Iowa legislature this year would provide $350,000 in state money and an additional $650,000 in federal matching money to keep the organization going. Iowa Senator Janet Petersen (D-Des Moines), who supports the bill, said that the Iowa Senate already approved funding but that the House had yet to act on it.

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