Angela Merkel. Picture: REUTERS
Angela Merkel. Picture: REUTERS

Berlin — Germany on Wednesday resumed family reunifications for some refugees, drawing the ire of leftist groups who said a cap of 1,000 people a month was too little, while at the same time a far-right party is opposed to immigration altogether.

The government in 2016 suspended the right to bring in immediate family members for asylum seekers granted limited protection in a move to ease the burden on social workers handling an influx of 1-million migrants. The ban did not apply to asylum applicants granted full refugee status as they have a constitutional right to invite their families to join them.

After big losses to an anti-immigrant party in an election in 2017, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives and their Social Democrat (SPD) junior coalition partner agreed on a compromise to partially lift the ban from August 1 2018.

"The new rule allows us to achieve a balance between our society’s integration capacity, humanity and security," arch-conservative Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said in a statement. "This is an important element of the government’s strategy on migration."

But the ecologist Greens as well as Christian welfare organisations say the new rules are unfair as they set vague parameters as to who will be chosen.

The length of separation, the age of loved ones outside Germany, health considerations and safety are some of the criteria that immigration officials will have to weigh in choosing who will be allowed in. In addition, refugees who have made an effort to integrate through language courses, apprenticeship and work would be given priority to invite family members.

The anti-Islam Alternative for Germany party said the rules would encourage more economic migrants to come to Germany seeking asylum.