The Latest: Austrian draft law sets limit on asylum seekers

AP News
Posted: Sep 06, 2016 2:45 PM
The Latest: Austrian draft law sets limit on asylum seekers

ROME (AP) — The Latest on Europe's migration crisis (all times local):

8:40 p.m.

Austria's government has drawn up a draft law that would prevent most migrants from seeking asylum once the number of applicants reaches 37,500.

Officials say the text of the proposed law was finalized Tuesday but still has to undergo a four-week review period before it is put to a parliamentary vote by the center-left government.

The Austria Press Agency reports that the text lists increased crime, the dangers of Islamic radicalization, and overstretched institutions as grounds for an automatic triggering of the law once the 37,500 limit is reached.

Parliamentary approval is expected. Government statistics show nearly 29,000 people had applied for asylum in Austria this year as of the end of July, about 8,000 fewer than during the same period last year.


7:15 p.m.

Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban says the European Union should defend its borders from "uncontrolled migration" as far south as possible.

Orban, who previously called migrants "poison," also said the migration wave has exposed the EU as weak.

Orban spoke Tuesday in southern Poland, where he met with government leaders from Poland, Slovakia, Czech Republic and Ukraine for talks on the bloc's future.

He says those in attendance at the meeting agreed that the "defense against uncontrolled migration must be moved south as far as possible."

He praised countries helping Bulgaria guard its borders in southeast Europe against illegal migrants headed for nations in the west.


5 p.m.

Chancellor Angela Merkel says she expects asylum applications from the large number of migrants who arrived in Germany in 2015 to be processed by early next year.

Germany registered nearly 1.1 million people as asylum-seekers last year. Officials say that figure was inflated by people who registered multiple times or then continued to other countries in Scandinavia and elsewhere. Since asylum applications lag some distance behind arrivals, it isn't clear how many actually arrived.

News agency dpa reported that Merkel said in Berlin Tuesday: "We will have an exact overview by the end of September of how many exactly arrived last year."

She added: "In the spring of next year all asylum applications will be processed, apart from the ones where papers are missing or everything is mixed up."


2:25 p.m.

Greek police have arrested two local men for allegedly trying to smuggle a group of Syrian refugees trapped in Greece over the rugged border with Albania.

Police said the suspects were part of a network that had promised to clandestinely bring the refugees to northern Europe, for which each Syrian was to pay 1,200 euros (US$1,300) upon arrival.

A police statement Tuesday said the two Greeks were arrested in the mountainous Kastoria region, after letting off 14 Syrians near the border. They had allegedly driven the group there in two cars from the northern city of Thessaloniki.

It was the fifth such incident on the Albanian border since mid-July.

About 60,000 refugees and other migrants have been trapped in Greece by a series of Balkan border closures in March.


1:50 p.m.

The mayor of Paris has presented a plan to open a new reception center for migrants in the French capital.

Mayor Anne Hidalgo said Tuesday the center in north Paris designed for up to 400 people is aimed at taking care of "several dozen migrants arriving everyday" in the city.

People will be allowed to stay there for up to 10 days before being transferred to other facilities in France where they can apply for asylum.

Hidalgo says she hopes to have the center open by mid-October and that it will prevent migrants from camping in squalid conditions elsewhere in the capital.

French authorities say about 15,000 migrants have been removed from Paris streets and parks and given shelter since June 2015.


1:40 p.m.

Italian police say 21 people have been detained on suspicion of transporting new Syrian migrants into Germany, Austria and France in a fleet of old cars.

Police say 10 of the 18 drivers arrested in Germany and Austria were Italian, but that the main organizers of the land-based smuggling network that charged 500 euros per passenger were Syrian, Egyptian and Tunisian.

They said in a statement Tuesday that the taxi network ferried 200 migrants north from Italy and Hungary from December 2014 to May 2016.

Police say the Como, Italy-based organizers recruited the drivers and provided them with 170 different used cars, many owned by fictitious companies.

The investigation began in September 2015 when an Italian was arrested in Hungary with several migrants in his car, according to Eurojust.