BERLIN - German ministers outlined plans on Tuesday to speed up the deportation of foreigners who commit crimes, responding to sexual attacks on women by migrants in Cologne which have deepened doubts about the country's open-door refugee policy.
The assaults on New Year's Eve, which are the subject of an ongoing investigation, have emboldened right-wing groups and unsettled members of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative party, raising pressure on her to crack down forcefully on migrants who commit crimes.
Under plans unveiled by conservative Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere and Social Democrat (SPD) Justice Minister Heiko Maas, foreigners who are found guilty of committing physical and sexual assaults, resisting police or damaging property, could be deported.
Under current law, most of these crimes carry probationary sentences and do not trigger expulsion.
Merkel welcomed the agreement between the two ministers who represent different parties in her right-left coalition.
"We must make sure the law can take effect as soon as possible. First we have to think how to get the parliamentary process going as quickly as possible," conservative Merkel said.