The Latest: German lawmakers urge daily quotas for refugees

AP News
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Posted: Feb 21, 2016 3:06 PM
The Latest: German lawmakers urge daily quotas for refugees

THESSALONIKI, Greece (AP) — The Latest on the massive influx of migrants into Europe (all times local):

9:05 p.m.

A senior member of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's party is renewing a call for centers at borders from which refugees would be allowed into the country according to daily quotas.

Julia Kloeckner, a deputy leader of Merkel's Christian Democrats, hopes to oust a center-left governor in a March 13 election in Rhineland-Palatinate state. In neighboring Baden-Wuerttemberg, fellow party member Guido Wolf hopes to return the party to power after a five-year hiatus.

In a joint statement Sunday, they pressed for daily quotas of an unspecified size, renewing a call Kloeckner made a month ago. The pair stressed their support for Merkel's efforts to achieve a European solution to the migrant crisis but added Germany can't depend solely on the goodwill of other unwilling nations.

Germany saw more than 1 million asylum-seekers enter the country last year. European nations have been deeply divided over the immigration crisis.

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8:10 p.m.

Germany's interior minister says his country won't put up in the long term with other nations simply waving migrants through to Germany, and is objecting to the number that neighboring Austria is allowing to transit.

Germany is under pressure as others, including Austria, take an increasingly restrictive approach to letting in asylum-seekers. Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere told ARD television Sunday it's unacceptable for others to increase Germany's burden by waving people through or not checking.

Since Friday, Austria is allowing no more than 80 migrants a day to apply for asylum at its borders while allowing up to 3,200 other people wanting asylum elsewhere to pass through.

De Maiziere said the asylum limit is "an Austrian decision" but the transit figure is "the wrong signal. The number is much too high. We don't accept that."

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4:10 p.m.

Serbian state television says police have stopped more than 100 migrants who tried to walk to Croatia from a refugee center in a Serbian border town.

RTS television says police stopped the refugees in the village of Adasevci, near the Croatian border on Sunday. It says they then sat down on the ground, blocking traffic.

The RTS footage showed a column of people walking along a road, carrying their belongings.

It wasn't immediately clear if the group would be allowed to move on to Croatia and other EU countries amid tighter rules for entry along the so-called Balkan migrant route. The report says that a train carrying 600 migrants left for Croatia earlier Sunday.

Wealthy European nations have sought to cap the influx after more than one million refugees entered in 2015.

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3:55 p.m.

Serbia says the decision to block refugees from Afghanistan from passing through the so-called Balkan migrant corridor has been made by Austria and Slovenia.

Labor Minister Aleksandar Vulin said Sunday that "everyone can move in accordance with the rules set by Austria and Slovenia." He added that "the Serbian state does not decide who can pass through its territory without consulting the states up the migrant route."

Vulin insists that Serbia's "borders are open, Serbia has not closed its borders with Macedonia or Bulgaria in any way."

EU countries have sought to cap the influx of refugees after more than one million people entered in 2015. Nations along the entry route have agreed to jointly control the flow of migrants through their territories.

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12:30 p.m.

Police say a fire has damaged a former hotel that was being converted into a refugee home in eastern Germany and two people have been detained after hindering firefighters' work.

The blaze at the roof of the building in Bautzen, in the eastern state of Saxony, broke out early Sunday for reasons that remain unclear. Police said no one was injured, but a group of people gathered outside, some of them "commenting with derogatory remarks or unashamed joy" on the fire.

The fire came three days after an incident elsewhere in Saxony in which a mob screaming "Go home!" blocked a bus carrying asylum-seekers outside a refugee home. Police drew criticism in that case for hauling some migrants off the bus, which they insist was necessary to prevent the situation from escalating.

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11:15 a.m.

Greek police say Macedonia has closed its southern border with Greece to Afghan migrants, allowing entry only for Iraqis and Syrians.

Macedonian authorities reportedly said that Serbia has done the same on its southern border with Macedonia.

Macedonian police started restricting the flow of migrants across the Greek-Macedonian border Saturday, conducting body searches and demanding passports. Earlier, they had accepted Greek police's official documents attesting that an individual had been processed.

The moves have led to a buildup of migrants waiting at the Greek side of the border. Greek police said 800 were stranded at the border Sunday and another 2,750 were waiting in 55 buses nearby.

In the 24 hours to 6 a.m. local (0400 GMT) Sunday, only 310 migrants had been allowed into Macedonia.