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Under Public Pressure Over Cologne’s Mass Sexual Assaults, Angela Merkel Toughens Refugee Stance

Screen Shot 2016-01-09 at 1.28.10 PMThe wave of sexual assaults that swept through Cologne, Germany on New Year’s Eve has sparked controversy and protests, as well as the firing of Cologne’s police chief. Amid calls for tighter restrictions on the refugees that have been flooding into the country, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has now moved in that direction.

The protests that followed the New Year’s Eve attacks have intensified over time, with police using water cannons to disperse protesters. Here’s raw video of one of those protests from Saturday:

The public pressure has had an effect on Merkel, who now says she is open to tighter restrictions on refugees:

Merkel, who has been particularly outspoken in welcoming refugees to Germany, told a two-day meeting of the Christian Democrats in Mainz that tighter restrictions would be “in the interest of citizens, but also in the interests of the great majority of the refugees who are here,” Deutsche Presse-Agentur reported.

“When crimes are committed, and people place themselves outside the law … there must be consequences,” she told reporters after the meeting, the BBC reported.

Party leaders agreed on a proposal to strengthen the ability of police to conduct checks of identity papers, and also to exclude foreigners from being granted asylum who had been convicted of crimes and sentenced to terms even as light as probation. The measures would require approval by parliament.

The trouble in Germany comes as immigration, particularly by Muslims, hs become a central issue in U.S. politics.

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