BERLIN, May 7 (Xinhua) -- Controversial comments made by the senior Christian Social Union (CSU) politician and ex-minister Alexander Dobrindt on deportations on Monday sparked heated infighting within the German government.
Expressing his views on a widely-publicized uprising at a refugee accommodation center in Ellwangen, Dobrindt criticized what he described as an "aggressive anti-deportation industry" which was allegedly attempting to subvert the course of justice in Germany.
The CSU politician drew parallels between the work of legal professionals representing and offering advice to asylum seekers in Germany and the violent resistance offered by refugees against police in Ellwangen to prevent the deportation of a Togolese national.
Dobrindt's comments earned a prompt rebuke from the German Social Democrat (SPD) parliamentary delegate Johannes Kahrs. He described Dobrindt's depiction of a wider conspiracy against deportations as "nonsense", mocking the comments in question as a "desperate attempt" to win back voters from the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) shortly before regional elections in Bavaria.
Similarly, SPD parliamentary secretary Carsten Schneider complained on radio station SWR that the CSU appeared to have fallen victim to a "permanent neurosis" caused by the perceived threat to its long-standing position of dominance in Bavarian politics. Schneider warned that the development would only make it harder to cooperate effectively in the federal government.
The German Bar Association told the press that it viewed Dobdrindt's statement as a significant attack on the independence of the judiciary in Germany. Ulrich Schellenberg, president of the German association of lawyers, urged SPD leader Andrea Nahles to formally register protest during a cabinet session currently being held on the peak of the Zugspitze mountain in Bavaria.
Joining the debate on Monday, Christian Democratic Union (CDU) secretary general Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer told public broadcaster ARD that Dobrindt had no grounds to complain about the use of legal recourse and access to forms of professional assistance by asylum seekers which were enabled in Germany by the rule of law. Kramp-Karrenbauer emphasized that her party supported the legal framework as it currently stood.
Nevertheless, interior minister and CSU leader Horst Seehofer defended Dobrindt against widespread criticism. While insisting that his party remained committed to the rule of law, Seehofer stressed that an "unusually high number" of rejected asylum applications were met with appeals which then led to lengthy and costly law suits.
Seehofer did not want to himself comment on the exact wording used by Dobrindt. He noted, however, that his own department was on schedule to "realize" the construction of so-called "anchor" centers where refugees would be held centrally after arriving in Germany until a decision had been reached on their residency status. In the case of failed applications, the asylum seekers in question will be deported directly and swiftly from the respective anchor centers.
The CSU leader highlighted that he was "very loyal" to the wording of the "grand coalition" agreement which first envisioned anchor centers. So far regional partners have failed to embrace the pilot project, leading to accusations that Seehofer had no concrete solution to offer to incidents with violent refugees like the one in Ellwangen.
SPD secretary general Lars Klingenbeil told newspaper Heilbronner Stimme that a "sensible concept" was needed to ensure that people without perspectives and jobs would not just be left to their own devices. The German trade union of police officers also called for more comprehensive video surveillance of refugee accommodation centers in reaction to the Ellwangen incident last Monday.