German Chancellor Angela Merkel toughened her stance Saturday on refugees coming into the country, arguing not only should there be a requirement to expel asylum seekers who have committed crimes and been sentenced to jail, but also for refugees given suspended sentences, Agence France-Presse reported. Currently, German law dictates only refugees who have been sentenced to three years in prison can be deported, and only if their lives are not deemed at risk upon return to their country of origin.

Merkel said if a “refugee flouts the rules, then there must be consequences. That means that they can lose their residence right here, regardless of whether they have a suspended sentence or a prison sentence,” AFP reported.

Some Social Democrats have said they would oppose any changes to the law regarding kicking out refugees. The modifications Merkel touted would need to be discussed in her coalition before adoption.

Swift changes were sought following a series of assaults on women in Cologne on New Year’s Eve. German police identified 32 people who were allegedly involved in attacks on women that evening, 22 of them refugees seeking asylum in Germany, Reuters reported.

“Serial offenders who repeatedly rob or repeatedly affront women must feel the full force of the law,” Merkel said. The German leader said the country should reduce the flow of refugees coming into Germany in the long term, a promise that came amid protests over the muggings and sexual assaults that happened New Year’s Eve, Reuters reported.


Last year, Merkel was an outspoken supporter of an open-door refugee policy, saying Germany could properly deal with the flow of about 1 million refugees a year, the Guardian reported. She changed course toward the end of 2015, saying she wanted to decrease dramatically the flow of refugees coming across German borders.