BERLIN — Germany’s minister of the interior banned a local branch of the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees from making asylum decisions Wednesday in a widening scandal over allegations of improper granting of more than 1,000 requests for asylum.
Horst Seehofer suspended the processing of applications at the migration office in the city of Bremen after an internal review of 4,568 asylum cases concluded that branch officials intentionally violated regulations.
“Trust in the quality of the asylum procedures and the integrity of the welcome center in Bremen has been massively damaged,” Seehofer said.
Another 10 branch offices with higher-than-average approval rates are also under review, the German news agency dpa reported.
Two law firms also are suspected of having participated in the scheme, the Interior Ministry said without providing details or naming the firms.
Jutta Cordt, director of the migration office, was coming under pressure as part of the fallout from the alleged wrongdoing in Bremen.
Prosecutors in the Nueremberg-Fuerth region have opened a preliminary investigation into whether Cordt’s office helped migrants who didn’t meet the requirements for asylum to remain in Germany, according to dpa.
Germany took in more than 1 million refugees and migrants between 2015 and 2016, mostly from war-torn Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.