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Austria considers stripping asylum from criminal refugees

A survey of Austrians has revealed the vast majority are in support of refugees automatically losing their right to asylum if they break the law, an idea recently proposed by a government minister.

Austria considers stripping asylum from criminal refugees
Joe Gratz/Creative Commons

Austria’s Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka told Österreich newspaper that he wants those who have broken the law to automatically lose their right to asylum in the country.

“The question is whether someone who is a lawbreaker automatically loses their asylum status with the legal sentencing. For me, that would be a conceivable measure to consider,” he said.

Sobotka proposed this could apply to both people awaiting an answer to their asylum application as well as those who have already received refugee status.

Now a survey of Austrians carried out by researchers GfK suggests that 79% are “very” in agreement that refugees “who have offended to be quickly removed from the country.”

A further 14% are “probably” in agreement, bringing the total of people who are comfortable with the idea to 93%.

The Green’s spokesperson for refugee and migration issues Alev Korun has said she is sceptical of the suggestion by Sobotka, arguing that 25 years of tightening of asylum laws has not solved a single problem.

“It is neither sensible nor helpful to continue doing something that has not worked in the past,” she said in a statement.

Sobotka’s announcement over the weekend follows comments he made last week pushing for tougher laws for people who come illegally to Austria to settle as economic migrants.

“(…) those who travel to us illegally for economic reasons, I would like them to see legal consequences. That requires a significant strengthening of the law,” he said.

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Tell us: What was your experience like dealing with Vienna’s MA35?

The office for immigration and citizenship in Vienna is for many immigrants their first encounter with Austrian bureaucracy. We want to hear from you about your own experience dealing with officials and the process.

Tell us: What was your experience like dealing with Vienna's MA35?

Vienna’s MA35 is a well-known office for immigrants in Austria, particularly those who live in the capital. It has received plenty of criticism for long delays, mistakes and even mistreatment of those seeking services from renewing a visa to applying for Austrian citizenship.

Yet, it is an integral part of life for immigrants and their family members, as the office is responsible for residence permits (from visas to the Anmeldebescheiningung for EU citizens), naturalisation applications and more. In short: there is no escaping it.

So, we want to hear from you: What has been your experience and importantly do you have any advice for others?

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