Migrants who arrive in Germany without identification papers or a passport may soon have their mobile phones confiscated so that authorities can determine their country of origin.
The number of migrants arriving in Germany with no form of identification has been on the rise, especially among underage migrants, or those who claim to be underage. The Federal Agency for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) has had a hard time determining the age or country of origin of the migrants, but that may change as the government looks to allow them to examine the migrants’ mobile phones Die Welt reports.
Hesse Prime Minister Volker Bouffier is the politician behind the idea and met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel Thursday to discuss its implementation. Prime Minister Bouffier, who is also a member of Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU), said that the searching of phones by BAMF, “should be possible with this new legislation, we believe this is imperative.”
Bouffier made it clear that he does not want the legislation to give carte blanche to officials to search all migrants mobile phones, but only in cases in which BAMF cannot clearly identify the person’s age or place of origin. Chancellor Merkel said that the authorities should be allowed to have the ability to check mobile phones and that it may already be possibly legal.
An undercover investigation last year by journalist Abdullah Khan revealed the extent of how many migrants come to Germany without papers and often use it to their advantage.
Mr. Khan spent several months working at the migrant reception centre and said, “Many pose as minors travelling alone, because word has spread that they will qualify for more benefits. … To lie about their age, many people use false passports and other identity documents.”
The journalist described encountering a migrant who claimed originally to be from Afghanistan but spoke in Urdu, the language most commonly used in Pakistan and when confronted presented an obviously forged Afghan passport.
Searching mobile phones may also help determine asylum seekers that could have links to radical Islamist groups like the Islamic State. Earlier this month the terror group offered to cover smuggling costs for migrants who promised to join them and wage jihad in Europe.
Dutch researchers Joris van Wijk and Maarten Bolhuis have said that it is virtually impossible for governments to determine which asylum seekers may have links to radical Islamists because many are told by terrorist groups to act as normally as possible and not to arouse any suspicion.
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