Germany’s interior minister says he plans to push a new law that would force more than a million refugees to learn the German language and integrate into society – or lose their residency.
Thomas de Maiziere told ARD television Monday that 100,000 refugees this year – most escaping the wartorn Middle East and Africa – have joined the more than 1 million people who already passed through Germany’s borders in 2015, Reuters reports.
He said that in return for language lessons, social benefits and housing, Germany expected the new arrivals to try integrating themselves in the country’s society.
"For those who refuse to learn German, for those who refuse to allow their relatives to integrate -- for instance women or girls -- for those who reject job offers: for them, there cannot be an unlimited settlement permit after three years," Reuters reports.
De Maiziere’s announcement came after his conservative party, led by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, took a hit in regional elections earlier this month. Voters rejected Merkel’s open-door refugee policy and rallied around the rival anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany party.
A draft law, which is planned for May, was welcomed by Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel.
"We must not only support integration but demand it," Gabriel told the Bild newspaper.