Faced with a public outcry, West Germany is about to tighten up the liberal asylum law that has attracted refugees from as near as Czechoslovakia and as far away as Sri Lanka.
More than 27,600 asylum-seekers arrived last year at the Schwalbach camp just outside Frankfurt, roughly one-quarter of the nationwide total.
And they are still coming at a record pace, despite the controversy surrounding them and charges that many come not in search of freedom from political persecution but for their own economic betterment.
Most of the asylum-seekers arriving at the Frankfurt airport are driven by bus to the state-run camp. West German officials said some people cross on foot over West Germany’s southern borders.
“Some Poles come here directly with their cars and say, ‘Here I am,”’ said Volker Moeser, the camp director.
So far this year, the largest number of refugees have come from Turkey, followed in order by Sri Lanka, Poland, Iran, Afghanistan, India, Ghana, Yugoslavia, Somalia and Lebanon.
Moeser said some of the refugees are aware of the heated political debate surrounding the political asylum issue.
Asylum-seekers throughout the country occasionally are the targets of violence.
On Feb. 14, unknown assailants firebombed a home for asylum-seekers in the northern Bavarian town of Memmelsdorf. Damage was minor, and none of the 15 Poles and Hungarians inside were injured.
A similar attack took place at a home for asylum-seekers in nearby Bamberg the following day.
While violence still is limited, general dissatisfaction among Germans with the number of asylum-seekers continues to grow after the number hit 103,076 last year in this country of 61.3 million people.