The country has deported more than 12,000 migrants who failed to meet the criteria for legal permanent residence in Germany over the past four years, according to government records, as well as a new report from the Migration Law Institute (LII), a think tank.
Germany’s Migration Law Center estimates that at least 1,000 of those were German citizens.
The migrants are the first to have been deported since Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government came to power in 2016, after the country voted for the far-right AfD party.
Merkel’s refugee policy has sparked anger and a public backlash, with many migrants fleeing war and economic hardship in their home countries.
The LII is now asking German voters to decide if they want to deport them and to set up a registry to keep track of the deportees’ whereabouts.
According to LII data, 1,058 people have been expelled in the past five years.
Germany currently has more than 2,200 deportees.
In 2017, Germany deported 2,621 people, according the LII, which said most of those deported were not asylum seekers.
The vast majority of the migrants were convicted criminals, and were sentenced to lengthy prison terms.
Germany is currently debating a law that would make it illegal to deport migrants who are in the country illegally, which would be in line with other countries, such as Sweden, Denmark, and the United Kingdom.
Merkel said last month that the new law was needed to help curb the influx of asylum seekers into Germany.
She said she hoped to introduce the bill before the end of the year, but that she had to act quickly.