Tighter Policies Await Asylum Seekers in Austria

Austria’s new conservative and far- Right coalition will require all asylum seekers to surrender their mobile phones and pay fees as conditions for the application process.

The fees will be used to cover basic care costs while data taken from mobile phones will be evaluated and assessed to determine the applicant’s true identity.

The new coalition also stated that asylum seekers whose applications are rejected will be deported immediately. Under the new immigration policy, asylum shall be recognized only as “temporary protection”.

The tighter policies are in line with the coalition’s efforts to discourage illegal immigration.

An estimated 6,000 protestors took to the streets to voice out their disapproval over the restrictive application process. Signs which said “Refugees Welcome” and “No Nazi Pigs” were held aloft. Police were there to manage the protests.

Austria is the only Western European country with a far- Right party in government. Austria’s far- Right Freedom Party was officially sworn in by the President on 18 December. The Freedom Party was founded by former members of the Nazi party.

Sebastian Kurz is the new Austrian chancellor and at 31, is the youngest leader in Europe. Heinz Christian Strache who is the head of the anti-immigration Freedom Party is the new vice chancellor.

Strache also disclosed plans by the new government to cut down the benefits of asylum seekers:

“It will no longer happen for migrants who have never worked here a single day or paid anything into the social system to get thousands of Euros in welfare.”

For Chancellor Kurz, Austria should be a land of diversity but there should be basic values that apply to all. The new government promised to establish a new political style in Austria.

President Van der Bellen for his part advised the new government to adopt a more responsible policy toward immigrants and other minority groups. Perhaps alluding to Kurz’s point on values, the President commented:

“Working with the weakest shows what our values are really worth.”