Austria’s government is proposing to make it harder for refugees to become citizens, confiscate asylum seekers’ cash to pay for their upkeep and even seize their mobile phones to see where they came from.
The measures were included in a bill approved by the cabinet on Wednesday, as the coalition government of conservatives and the far right clamps down on the country’s migrants.
“We have very deliberately set ourselves the goal of fighting against illegal migration but also against the misuse of asylum,” Chancellor Sebastian Kurz told a news conference after the weekly cabinet meeting.
Austria took in more than 1 percent of its population in 2015 when Europe’s influx of migrants began, many of them fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East and Africa. Initial sympathy for the new arrivals soon turned to alarm as their numbers mounted.