HomeTop StoriesGerman parliament approves payment cards for asylum seekers to limit cash payments

German parliament approves payment cards for asylum seekers to limit cash payments

BERLIN (AP) — Germany’s parliament on Friday approved legislation introducing payment cards for asylum seekers, a system aimed at limiting benefits paid in cash and making the country less attractive to migrants.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Germany’s 16 governors agreed in principle to introduce the system in early November, but it took the governing coalition until last week to iron out differences over whether specific legislation was needed and over its details. The resulting bill was approved by a large majority in the lower house of parliament, the Bundestag.

It calls on asylum seekers to receive their benefits on a card that can be used for payments in local shops and services. They will only be able to withdraw limited amounts of cash and cannot transfer money to countries outside Germany. The aim is to prevent migrants from sending money to family and friends abroad, or to smugglers.

The legislation gives local authorities leeway to decide on exemptions and how much cash asylum seekers can withdraw.

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Attitudes towards migration have hardened in Germany as large numbers of asylum seekers have arrived, alongside refugees from Ukraine, and local authorities have struggled to find shelter.

The number of asylum seekers in Germany rose to more than 350,000 last year, an increase of just over 50% compared to the previous year. The largest number of asylum seekers came from Syria, followed by Turkish and Afghan citizens.

In January, lawmakers passed legislation intended to ease the deportation of failed asylum seekers.

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