Fewer people applied for asylum in Germany last year, Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said on Wednesday 23rd January, putting the second yearly slide in a row down to restrictive measures introduced by the government after a record influx in 2015, Reuters reported.
Immigration remains a contentious concern in Germany, four years after Merkel's 2015 decision to welcome a record 890,000 asylum seekers, mainly Muslims fleeing conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.
The latest figures show that Chancellor Angela Merkel's government has met its target to limit the number of asylum applicants to between 180,000 and 220,000 a year.
2018 witnessed a 13% drop from the 186,000 requests recorded a year earlier, as only about 162,000 asylum applications were registered.
Seehofer said that the applicants included 32,000 infants under the age of one who were born in Germany to asylum-seeking mothers.
Syrians remained by far the largest spectrum of applicants with 46,000, followed by Iraqis and Afghans, who numbered 18,000 and 12,000 respectively.
Seehofer almost brought down Merkel's coalition government with the Social Democrats (SPD) last year with demands for stricter controls on Germany's border with Austria, the main gateway for migrants.
Angry voters have punished both Merkel's conservatives and the SPD in the 2017 election for their welcoming asylum policies, which propelled the Alternative for Germany (AfD) far-right party into the Bundestag lower house for the first time.
The government has tried to cut asylum arrivals by imposing restrictive measures such as limiting to 1,000 a month the number of people who can join their loved ones in Germany under family reunification laws for refugees.
Germany has also lowered rates of accepting asylum applications. Last year around 35% of applications were positive, down from 43% in 2017.
However, the main reasons for the gradual drop in arrivals are down to factors beyond Germany's control, including a drop in the level of violence in Syria and Iraq.