Berlin - German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer says it's a "scandal" that unsuccessful asylum seekers deported from Germany are able to re-enter and apply for asylum all over again. He wants to stop letting these people in in the coming days.
His dispute with Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is opposed to unilateral border controls by EU member states, has raised questions about who exactly is able to enter the country and on which grounds.
Can anyone enter Germany at the moment?
Answer: Almost all of those who arrive at the German border are eligible to apply for asylum - even those whose bid has already been denied, and as such are subject to an entry ban. The Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) stipulates that rejected asylum seekers can re-apply as long as they have new grounds for needing asylum.
What does Seehofer want to change?
A: Seehofer wants to order people subject to an entry ban to be turned away at the border. If Merkel does not deliver on her promise to find a way to stem the influx at the EU-level, Seehofer says he will start turning away those who have already registered asylum claims elsewhere in the bloc in accordance with the EU's co-called Dublin rules.
Can German border police ever refuse entry to asylum seekers?
A: Yes, in individual cases. Joerg Radek, deputy head of a German police union, says that migrants subject to an entry ban must fill out a questionnaire upon arrival - if police officers recognize no new grounds for asylum, they can deny entry.
What exactly are the Dublin rules and why aren't they being enforced?
A: Under the Dublin agreement, the European Union country where a refugee first registers for asylum is responsible for his or her asylum proceedings.
However, the sheer number of arrivals during the refugee crisis in just one or two countries overwhelmed the system. The existing regulation was not devised with these kind of numbers in mind, and as such is not being enforced.
Is the rule straightforward to enforce?
A: Deviations from the Dublin principle are possible, such as when a refugee has relatives in another EU country. The accord also states that Germany must carry out its own asylum proceedings if it does not succeed in sending a refugee back within six months.
Where will this lead?
A: Seehofer hopes that turning away people at the border will result in fewer asylum requests. Guenther Burkhardt, managing director of the refugee aid organization Pro Asyl, fears that there could be a "chain reaction of rejections" across Europe if Germany sets a precedent.
There could also be unintended consequences. If EU countries know they must take registered migrants back, it would be an incentive not to register them in the first place. Germany has long accused Rome and Athens of deliberately waving through migrants who ought to be registered as soon as they enter the EU.