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efms Migration Report

April 2007

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EU Council Presidency: Application of two instruments to secure the external borders gotten under way

Within the framework of the German EU Council Presidency, the EU Ministers of the Interior and Justice, have decided on 20 April 2007 to get under way two of the planned measures to strengthen the EU Border Agency Frontex: Firstly, the so-called Rapid Border Intervention Teams (RABITs), rapid intervention teams for securing the external borders, which are to be furnished for the first time with executive powers. In future, EU Member States will also have the opportunity to ask for the support of Joint Support Teams (FJSTs), expert teams for the planning of actions to be taken along the borders. Secondly, Frontex will set-up a centralised register of technical equipment, the so-called "toolbox", which is a register of technical equipment to pool it for the control and surveillance of the external borders that is voluntarily offered by individual Member States to the others. With the employment of these instruments, illegal immigration to the EU is to be fought more efficiently. The Executive Director of Frontex, Illka Laitinen, said that now also the network of costal patrols to secure the southern maritime borders needed to be advanced further.
BMI press release of 16.04.07 // FAZ 21.04.07

Debate on national integration plan before its presentation

On the occasion of the second integration summit to be held on 12 July 2007, federal Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) wants to present a "National Integration Plan". It is to contain recommendations aimed at improving the living together of Germans and immigrants. Major subjects to be discussed by ten working groups are topics such as how to improve the acquisition of German language skills by immigrants, how a better integration into the labour markets can be achieved and how politics can facilitate the nationalisation of migrants. The state secretary for internal affairs, Peter Altmaier (CDU) announced, besides other alterations, an optimisation of the integration course system by introducing evaluation tests and final exams as well as by offering in parallel qualified child care services. The implementation and funding of the National Integration Plan should be primarily the task of the federal states and municipalities. Maria Böhmer, the Integration Commissioner of the Federal Government, said that education would be a central component of the integration policy, for which the federal states would be in charge of. Therefore, their commitment to a future-oriented policy would be one of the keys to a better integration.
taz online 31.03.07 // Press release of the Federal Ministry of the Interior 17.04.07 // Federal Government online 18.04.07 // Spiegel online 23.04.07 // FAZ 27.04.07

Federal Ministry of the Interior takes stricter measures against illegal immigrants

According to a report of the Federal Ministry of the Interior (BMI) on the situation of illegal migrants in Germany, which has not been published yet, the authority expresses a restrictive standpoint by demanding that only those illegal immigrants could expect state support services who would be willing to inform the authorities about their illegal status. According to the report, it is foreseen that instead of offering illegal immigrants anonymous health insurance services or supporting them with a publicly financed fund, foreigners without documents would either have to pay themselves for health services or would apply for health services like asylum applicants. The latter, however, requires the revelation of the residence status. Moreover, the report calls for a stricter application of the so-called reporting duty, according to which the heads of public schools are to inform the authorities about school children who are residing illegally in Germany. While the BMI favours a strict implementation of the reporting duty, the SPD party wants to ease the regulations. According the SPD, children should not suffer from the behaviour of their parents. Dieter Wiefelspütz, the spokesman for interior affairs of the SPD group in the federal parliament, said that he wanted to negotiate as quickly as possible about exceptions to the application of the reporting duty. In contrast, his counterpart at the Union parties, Hans-Peter Uhl, is of the opinion that the "chumminess with the illegals" would clearly be the wrong approach.
Der Spiegel 07.04.07

Structural reforms at the Federal Police

With a view to the extension of the EU"s external borders towards the east, to the increasing number of illegal migrants and the growing needs of controlling airports and railway stations due to the increased terrorist threats, federal Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU) has reorganised the Federal Police forces: In future, the operative command centre is to be located in Potsdam, where five regional Federal Police headquarters and individual departments of the federal Ministry of the Interior (BMI) have been established so far. The formerly nineteen Federal Police offices will be reduced to nine Federal Police headquarters; the 128 Federal inspectorates will be cut down to 76 in future. The operative units of one hundred Federal Police officers each will be strengthened with their number being increased from 28 to 29 units. Schäuble said that the Federal Police as one of the supporting pillars of Germany"s security architecture needed to react to altered situations and increasing requirements, should be organised in a more efficient way and be strengthened in its operative capabilities. For the heads of the authorities on medium level, the reform partly constitutes a considerable loss of competences. The Chairman of the Federal Police Union, Josef Scheuring, considered the reform to be basically right, but criticised individual decisions such as the shut-down of the location in the city of Rosenheim.
Press release of the Federal Ministry of the Interior 26.04.07 // FAZ 27.04.07

Signs indicating an opening of German right-wing extremists towards Islamistic discourse

The right-wing extremist scene seems to feel sympathy for Islamists in its aversion to Jews and the US. Even though the Hamburg section of the right-wing party NPD initiated a campaign against the erection of a mosque, it said that this agitation would not target Islam but be exclusively against the growing foreign infiltration. On global level, however, Islam would stand out as an ally of the free European peoples in their fight against the predominant intentions of the US. Most recently, there have been increasingly signs indicating an opening of German right-wing extremists: An increased number of keffiyehs could be seen at right-wing demonstrations, the Iranian flag hangs in some right-wing clubs and sometimes members of the NPD participate in demonstrations of militant Islamists. However, the approximation of Nazis and Islamists is not unlimited due to the racism of the neo-Nazis. In right-wing internet forums, there has been a discussion about the question as if it needed to be necessary to have sympathies for "Arabs" only because people would be "against Jews".
FR 26.04.07

Union party wants to facilitate immigration of highly skilled workers

Against the background of the lack of highly skilled workers and the booming economy in Germany, the CDU is increasingly willing to facilitate the access of foreign highly skilled workers to the labour market. Federal Minister of Economics, Michael Glos (CSU), has demanded to introduce the freedom of movement for highly skilled workers from the new EU Member States earlier than originally planned. According to Glos, also the provisions regulating the inflow of workers from non-EU States should be also eased by reducing the minimum annual income - whose introduction had been initiated by the Federal Minister of Labour, Franz Müntefering (SPD) - from 85,500 to 63,000 euros. Also the German Chamber of Industry and Commerce (DIHK) is of the opinion that the current income requirements could be hardly fulfiled, and demands in addition that foreigners with a university degree gaining starter salaries of 40,000 euros be granted a permanent right to remain in Germany. The German Association of Trade Unions (DGB) refused the initiative of the Union party and argued that instead of recruiting highly skilled workers abroad, vocational training and qualification measures in Germany should be given precedence. From among the SPD, the party"s spokesman for economic affairs, Rainer Wend, signalled his willingness to lower the income limits for highly skilled workers laid down in the Immigration Act, provided that such measure would be limited to certain groups of graduates.
BZ 12.04.07 // FR 13.04.07 // SZ 13.04.07 // Handelsblatt 13.04.07 // FR 16.04.07

Following the decision on a new Immigration Act many federal states issue bans on deportations

Following the decision of the Federal Government to introduce an amended Immigration Act, many federal states have stopped the deportations of foreigners whose stays have been tolerated for many years. The federal states of Bavaria, Saxony and Thuringa, however, have refused to take such steps. According to spokesmen of the corresponding ministries, a ban on deportations is not needed as the persons affected would have time until autumn to find an employment anyway. According to Thorsten Neels, spokesman of the Hessian Minister of the Interior, Volker Bouffier (CDU), most of the other federal states wanted to employ the ban on deportations to bridge the time needed to finish the legislative procedure.
SZ 04.04.07 // SZ 11.04.07

Number of bi-national marriages in Germany on the rise

According the Federal Statistical Office, the number of bi-national marriages in Germany has risen considerably: in 2005, about 1.3 million German-foreign couples were living in Germany. Compared to 1996, this is an increase of 84 per cent. Almost one out of five marriages entered into in Germany would meanwhile be bi-national; in Berlin, this would be the case in even one out of four marriages. The Integration Commissioner of the federal state of Berlin, Günter Piening, saw this development as a sign for an increasing opening of the society. This increase showed that the society would not split up into separated "parallel societies". The association of bi-national families and partnerships expects the number of German-foreign marriages to increase further.
BZ 24.04.07

UN Children"s Rights Convention insufficiently implemented in German refugee law

On the occasion of the 15th anniversary of Germany"s ratification of the UN Children"s Rights Convention, Children"s, refugees" and human rights organisations have admonished the Federal Government to transpose it in the refugee law. On 5 April 1992, Germany had signed the Conventions, thus recognising that the well-being of children has precedence over all other interests of states, authorities or other institutions. So far, however, they would not have been legally established. The Christian-liberal Federal Government in power at the time of adoption, implemented the Conventions under the condition of being allowed to distinguish between German and foreign nationals. According to German law, children could therefore be taken into custody to secure deportation and be deported at the age of sixteen. The reform of the Immigration Act now also provides for an obligation of the refugees to provide evidence on their age, which previously had to be furnished by the authorities only. Moreover, the protection against deportation for foreign youths is to be reduced. According to an expertise of Pro Asyl, the reservation would be against the core element of the human rights protection system by drawing a borderline between German and foreign nationals. Also the petition committee of the Federal Parliament admonished the Government without success to lift this restriction. The Federal Ministry of the Interior countered the critics by stating that the well-being of children would be legally established in the Child and Youth Welfare Law and added that an introduction to the Refugee Law would not be appropriate and contradicting the efforts of the Federal Government to reduce bureaucracy.
Berliner Zeitung 04.04.07 // FR 05.04.07

Expectations of the new Muslim Coordination Council towards the Islam Conference

On 2 May 2007, the second Islam Conference in Germany will be held under the auspices of the Federal Ministry of the Interior (BMI). It is aimed at improving the integration of the about 3.4 million Muslims living in Germany. The newly established Muslim Coordination Council ("KRM" in its German abbreviation) expects to set-up a schedule for reaching a legal equality of the Islam within the framework of the Islam Conference. The recognition as religious community having equal rights would be important in order to oblige the federal states to finally offer Islamic instruction classes at all schools throughout their territories. A spokeswoman of the Federal Ministry of the Interior stressed, however, that precedence would have to be given to solve current problems in daily life, such as the missing attendance of Muslim girls in swimming and biology lessons. The Secretary General of the KRM, Ayyub Axel Köhler, countered this statement by saying that if parents would prefer separated sports lessons for boy and girls, the KRM would support such positions and tried to promote pragmatic solution approaches at the schools. The Islam critic Necla Kelek criticised that the representatives of the Muslim associations would aim at a vertical division of the society by holding on to such position. With a view to the forthcoming Islam Conference, Köhler was not sure about the Federal Government"s actual idea of integration and its implementation and added that he expected the ideas to rather be aimed at achieving assimilation.
Die Zeit online 14.04.07 // FAZ 15.04.07 // taz online 16.04.07 // Die Welt 19.04.07 // SZ 19.04.07 // Die Zeit 19.04.07 // FAZ 30.04.07

Cultural changes in Jewish communities of Berlin triggers off splitting debate

The largest German Jewish community in Berlin (12,000 members) is facing the risk of being split up. As many other Jewish communities in Germany, it has undergone a drastic cultural change due to the increasing number of Jewish immigrants from the former Soviet Union that have joined the communities since 1990. Meanwhile, three quarters of the members of the Jewish community of Berlin are Russian-speaking immigrants. After the war, the Jewish communities above all considered their main task the keeping up of the memory of the holocaust. In contrast, the Russian members now tried to turn the community into a Russian cultural club and only a few of them had religious ties at all, criticised the former head of the community, Albert Meyer. Former community member and historian Julius H. Schoeps criticises above all the introduction of Russian in the community as second language given equal rights. Many liberal Jews in Berlin felt deprived of their possibilities to express themselves. Schoeps and Meyer are now taking into consideration the establishment of a separate synagogue association in Berlin and estimate the number of supporters to range between 300 and 400. The Central Council of Jews in Germany was restrained in its comments on the conflict and said that on the one hand the debate was a sign for the liveliness of the Jewish life in Germany, while at the other hand it would be regrettable if internal quarrels would lead to splitting up communities.
FR 17.04.07 // FR 20.04.07 // Deutschland Radio online 23.04.07

Saxony plans to tighten the law of assembly

The Minister of Justice of the federal state of Saxony, Geert Mackenroth (CDU), plans to tighten the law of assembly in order to be in the position to prohibit more easily convocations of neo-Nazis at historical places or at the occasion of public holidays. In Dresden, it is intended to keep the city centre free from right-wing demonstrators on the anniversary of the allied air raids on the city in 1945. With the application of the law he also wanted to shield the reputation of the federal state of Saxony, said Mackenroth.
BZ 12.04.07

Munich: Jewish life becomes tangible again

Over the past months, Jewish life in Munich has achieved more visibility and public interest, summarizes Charlotte Knobloch, president of the Israeli religious community of Munich and Upper Bavaria. Since the inauguration of the new "Ohel Jakob" main synagogue on 9 November 2006, a "forum for an exchange between Jews and non-Jews" has been build-up on the St. Jakobs square in the centre of Munich. Beside the synagogue, a new Jewish community centre as well as the recently opened municipal Jewish Museum are located there. Also the interest of the citizens of Munich had noticeably increased, said Knobloch. There would be, for instance, a strong demand of school classes for guided synagogue tours and for the offer to attend a worship service being explained by an accompanying member of the community. Another successful component of the concept would be the opening of the first kosher restaurant in Bavaria, which met with enormous approval.
NZZ 30.04.07

Integration using television and the media

The media landscape shows that integration is increasingly to be achieved also with the help of the media. Following the ZDF, the second public service television station, also the Südwestrundfunk SWR (public service television station located in the south-western part of Germany) has now introduced a "Sacred Word on Friday", which is to contribute to a better understanding between the cultures. Also some of the TV productions addressing the topics of migration and integration meet with great success. So, three persons with an oriental background were awarded the Grimme Prize: Bora Dagtekin for producing the early-evening series titled "Türkisch für Anfänger" (Turkish for beginners), Daniel Speck for his TV film "Meine verrückte türkische Hochzeit" (My crazy Turkish wedding) and Züli Aladag as the director of the drama "Wut" (Rage). What kind of TV productions contribute to integration, is not clarified, however. A study of the Karlsruhe-based Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie (Centre for arts and media technology) on the topic of "Expectations of migrants towards the TV programme" revealed that the respondents did not wish to see TV programmes that are explicitly aimed at fostering integration, as they suggested intensions perceived as too pedagogic. In families with a Turkish background, the interest would be higher for information and service formats of all kind, as such programmes offered practical help for everyday life, found the study.
FR 05.04.07 // FR 11.04.07 // FR 20.04.07

Deportations from Germany in 2006

In the past year, 13,894 asylum seekers and foreigners without valid residence permit from 131 countries were deported by aircraft to their respective countries of origin. The mayor part (1,884 persons) was deported to Serbia and Montenegro, followed by deportations to Turkey (1,834 persons), Vietnam (929 persons), Romania (732 persons) and Bulgaria (569 persons). Almost half of the deportations started out from Frankfurt airport, the others from the airports of Düsseldorf and Munich. About 2,500 deported persons were accompanied by German police officers, and 235 persons by medical personnel. The so-called "deportation security escort" alone caused the Federation costs amounting to 8.9 million euros. According to the Federal Government, an additional 829 deportations were effected by land and five by sea.
SZ 03.04.07 // FAZ 21.04.07

Asylum statistics

In April 2007, a total of 1,203 persons has submitted a petition for political asylum in Germany. The figure constitutes a decrease of 18.1 per cent (-265 persons) compared to March 2007. Compared to April 2006, the number of asylum seekers has declined by 19.8 per cent (-297 persons). In April 2007, applicants" main countries of origin were Serbia (162), Iraq (110), Turkey (84), Vietnam (75) and the Russian Federation (58). In April, the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees decided on 2,078 asylum applications. Seventeen persons (0.8 per cent) were recognised as being entitled to political asylum. Another 114 persons (5.5 per cent) were granted protection against deportation according to § 60, paragraph 1, Residence Act. The applications of 1,243 persons (59.8 per cent) have been rejected. The cases of a further 656 persons (31.6 per cent) have been closed for other reasons (e.g. due to suspensions of asylum procedures because persons have withdrawn their applications).
Press release of BMI of 09.05.07

April 2007

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