One of the two lead candidates for the right-wing populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, Tino Chrupalla, says he opposes offering asylum to the vast majority of Afghans.
Chrupalla complained that of the first 4,000 people who had been flown out by the German military from Kabul airport during the recent multinational airlift, only 136 counted as what he would consider to be local support staff in Afghanistan.
Asked to clarify how he would define the term local support staff, Chrupalla said: "They are for example interpreters who worked for the German military." When asked if only Bundeswehr staff, he said he did not want "NGOs or anything else diluting the term. Otherwise, it can't be verified. Who can say for sure which people are truly local staff?"
Given one last scenario of someone working for a German foundation in Afghanistan, he said: "You'd have to look at what they did exactly. If they just brought eggs or milk in the morning, then I wouldn't count that as actual support."
On 'floodgates' and border security
An Afghan who had managed to reach Pakistan in recent weeks submitted a question to Chrupalla, asking if Germany planned to offer help for people fleeing his homeland more generally in a manner reminiscent of 2015.
Chrupalla said that his party was "in line" with the governments of Austria and Denmark, which had said they planned not to take refugees from Afghanistan.
The German government currently estimates that around 40,000 people still in Afghanistan would qualify for evacuation either as local support staff or as their relatives. Chrupalla disputed this calculation from the government as inflated.
"This opens a floodgate. We don't want that. Local aid is much more important," Chrupalla told DW's Manuela Küfner and Erkan Arikan. He went on to say his first priority would be sending home Afghans who had arrived in Germany in previous years but had not successfully secured asylum or residency: "There are still 30,000 Afghans in this country who do not have the right to stay here."
He also said that Afghans should be turned away at the German border "in accordance with EU law," because if they reached it under the current conditions, they would have passed through several "safe" third countries en route. EU law requires asylum seekers to apply in the first member state they set foot in.
Reminded of comments from former AfD leader Frauke Petry during the so-called migrant crisis of 2015 about using weapons at the border, Chrupalla said that in "emergency situations" such as a "violent attack," all national border forces reserved this right, saying "you must be able to defend yourself."
The right-wing AfD's tough rhetoric in the aftermath of the migrant crisis contributed to it entering the national parliament for the first time in its history in 2017 on 12.6% of the vote. Most of Germany's volatile opinion polls see the party in danger of losing some of that support this time, as it battles to be the fourth-largest party with the pro-business Free Democrats and the socialist Left party.