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Germany Is Paying Asylum Seekers Thousands of Dollars to Go Back Home

In recent years, Germany has become the most generous country to refugees and migrants in Europe, welcoming millions of asylum seekers as neighboring countries close their borders.

But that doesn’t mean it’s been easy. The country has struggled to integrate and accommodate asylum seekers, deal with xenophobic groups, and reach resettlement agreements with other countries.

And now the majority of the population feels that a limit on migrants and refugees has been reached, according to a nationwide poll.

Take Action: Tweet at Germany to Create Safe and Legal Pathways for 28 million Refugee Children

These factors could be behind the country’s latest effort to sweeten the idea of self-deportation by offering rejected asylum seekers thousands of dollars to return home, according to Quartz.

Under the new policy, individuals are offered $1,185 and families are offered $3,545 to return home if their asylum applications are rejected. The government is also offering people housing subsidies, financial travel assistance, or financial help for entrepreneurship. The offer runs until Feb. 28, and lifts existing payments.

Read More: A German Mayor Was Stabbed for Admitting 450 Refugees to His Town

It’s incentivized deportation, or, as Chancellor Angela Merkel famously said, deportation with “a friendly face.”

Germany has been remarkably efficient at processing asylum seekers and, by the end of 2016, 158,000 people from recent years had been rejected, according to government records. That compares to the 872,000 asylum seekers whose applications have been approved.

Unless petitioners get their status changed, all of the rejected applicants are expected to leave the country. However, if a rejected applicant’s country is deemed unsafe, or if the person has medical issues, Germany will “tolerate” them until conditions change, according to the German media group Deutsche Welle (DW).  

Read More: US Abandons UN Refugee and Migrant Pact on Eve of Talks

The vast majority of asylum seekers in recent years have come from Syria, Afghanistan, or Iraq, so those whose applications are rejected are then generally allowed to stay under this “tolerated” designation, according to DW.

If a person is scheduled for deportation, it initially falls to local authorities to carry it out, DW reports. Police arrive at a person’s residence and escort them to an airport where they are handed to federal authorities who oversee the flight back to a home country.

In recent years, “voluntary returns” have outstripped deportations, likely because of the financial incentive, DW notes. This actually ends up saving the government money, according to DW.

There were 25,375 deportations in 2016, compared to more than 50,000 voluntary returns, also referred to as self-deportations in countries like the US.

Read More: For 4th Straight Year, 3,000 Migrants Have Drowned in Mediterranean Sea

The increased incentive announced by the German government could further drive voluntary returns over the next several months.

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