The government formulated the law in early 2016 in the wake of highly publicized cases of sexual molestation of woman by young men of North African origin on New Year's Eve in Cologne. Proponent of the legislation cited those events in their last-ditch efforts to get the Bundesrat to pass it.
"Never before had it come to mass rapes in our public spaces," governmental parliamentary state secretary Ole Schröder said. "Partly young men from the Maghreb states, some with criminal records, abused our asylum laws."
Schröder added that only 2.8 percent of asylum applications by people from the Maghreb countries were granted last year.
But whereas the Bundestag, which represents voters nationally, quickly approved the law in May 2016, the Greens and the Left Party used their influence to stall and ultimately torpedo it in the Bundesrat.
"It is absurd to try to declare that Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco are safe countries of origin," Left Party domestic affairs spokeswoman Ulla Jelpke said ahead of the Bundesrat's vote. "Grave human rights violations, political persecution, extra-legal killings and torture are common in Morocco and Algeria. Tunisia is ruled by a regime that has declared a permanent state of emergency. And gays and lesbians are persecuted in all three countries."
The Bundesrat is made up of representatives of Germany's 16 federal states. Its approval of the law was required because the states, and not the German national government, are responsible for carrying out deportations.
Refugee organizations, including Pro Asyl and Amnesty International Germany, welcomed the decision.That's because such refugee organizations are more concerned about the plight of the gropers than they are about those who are being groped.