BERLIN, May 31 (Reuters) - The far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party called on Thursday for a parliamentary inquiry into Chancellor Angela Merkel’s migrant policy amid a scandal over irregular asylum rulings during an influx of more than 1.6 million migrants.
The wave of migrants, many of them Muslims fleeing conflict in the Middle East, raised concerns about security and integration and helped to push the anti-immigrant AfD into the national parliament for the first time in September’s election.
The Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) is engulfed in uproar after an internal review of 4,568 asylum rulings found the Bremen branch had knowingly and regularly disregarded legal regulations and internal rules.
On Thursday, the AfD’s parliamentary group filed a motion to set up an inquiry committee, which would require 25 percent support from lawmakers. AfD co-leader Alexander Gauland said it would lobby other parties to try to get their support.
They generally refuse to work with the AfD but the liberal Free Democrats (FDP) have called for a committee to investigate the BAMF scandal.
The AfD and FDP would not have enough votes together but Gauland said he hoped the conservative CSU ally of Merkel’s Christian Democrats would back an inquiry committee as its leader had shown he wanted to tackle the BAMF scandal.
The AfD had called for a committee to investigate Merkel over her refugee policy during its 2017 election campaign - a move that helped it poach votes from disgruntled conservatives.
Senior AfD parliamentarian Beatrix von Storch, referring on Thursday to the catchphrase “wir schaffen das” (“we can do this”) that Merkel used during the height of the refugee crisis in 2015, said: “The BAMF example shows we can’t do this. The BAMF can’t do this ... It wasn’t possible to do this and it won’t be in future either.”
Conservatives fear the BAMF scandal could boost support for the AfD in a regional vote in Bavaria in October. In a bid to prove he is tough on migration, Interior Minister and leader of the Bavarian conservatives (CSU) Horst Seehofer has stopped the Bremen branch from making further asylum decisions.
In its motion the AfD described the BAMF scandal as part of a “broad government failure” on asylum policy. The AfD said it wanted to investigate the government policy since 2014, the legal basis for the government’s 2015 decision to open the borders to migrants, the impact the influx had on security and social security systems, and the costs involved. (Reporting by Michelle Martin Editing by Mark Heinrich)