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efms Migration Report

April 2008

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EU: Agreement on how to deal with illegal immigrants

Representatives of the 27 EU Member States and of the European Parliament have agreed on a provisional compromise on a common handling of illegal immigrants: On the one hand, persons staying illegally are to be rigorously deported in future, on the other hand, they will be granted for the first time the same rights throughout Europe. The compromise found is to serve as the basis for the so-called Return Directive, which will be a part of the common migration policy of the EU. The objective would be to get illegals out of the grey area, said the member of the CSU party and chief negotiator of the Parliament, Manfred Weber. The illegals either needed to leave the EU or they were to be given the right to stay legally. This way, the Member States would no longer be able to get easily rid of those affected by forcing them into underground, according to Weber. Among other things, it is foreseen prohibit the re-entry of deported persons during a period of five years and to introduce minimum standards for the medical care and the school attendance of the children of illegals. Moreover, representatives of the Churches and refugee relief organisations are to be given access to the deportation facilities. Particularly the question of how long illegals may be kept in custody is still under discussion. The comprise of the Parliament and Council states that illegals are not be considered criminals. Therefore, the persons affected may be detained over a period of maximum six months only in the case of the risk of escape and in exceptional cases for up to 18 months in facilities, which needed to be clearly different to regular prisons. The final agreement of the Parliament and the Council on the compromise is expected to be reached by the end of June.
SZ 25.04.08 // FAZ 25.04.08

EU: Schäuble is in favour of granting Christians from Iraq preferred admission

At a conference of the EU Interior Ministers held in Luxembourg on 15 April 2008, Federal Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU) made the proposal to grant particularly the Christians persecuted in Iraq asylum in the EU. Before, the 16 Interior Ministers of the German federal states had agreed on their conference in Bad Saarow on 17 und 18 April 2008 to admit Iraqi Christians within the framework of an EU programme. According to Schäuble, the aim was to help persons who are facing particularly difficult situations due to religious grounds. Against the backdrop of the responsibility the world community had for Iraqi refugees, it would not be "completely wrong" if the Europeans would focus particularly on this group. Schäuble"s counterparts, however, showed themselves quite restrained about his proposal. The Slovenian Interior Minister and EU Chairman, Dragutin Mate, said the decision on the admission of refugees needed to be taken irrespective of religious and racial grounds. Also on the national political level and from different refugee relief organisations doubts were raised about limiting the admission to Christians. The refugee relief organisation of the United Nations (UNHCR), for instance, said that also other non-Muslim minorities urgently were searching safe countries admitting them. On this point Schäuble commented that the religious minorities and the Christians in Iraq were in 99 per cent of all cases made up of the same persons. Moreover, the UNHCR tried to make the Federal Government willing not to limit the admission of refugees to one unique action. Germany should agree within the framework of a so-called resettlement programme to admit every year a fixed quota of persons from among the world-wide 150,000 recognised refugees, for whom the UN is searching safe countries. So far, the Federal Government has denied to accept such admission quota on a regular basis. At the next meeting of the EU Interior Ministers scheduled for June, the plans for the admission of Iraqi refugees to the EU are to be concretised.
FR 16.04.08 // FAZ 17.04.08 // 17.04.08 // IHT 17.04.08 SZ 19.04.08 // Die Welt 19.04.08 // FAZ 19.04.08 // taz 22.04.08

Islamic instruction classes and extremism

According to a study of the American Foreign Policy Research Center, it is completely unfounded to assume the theory of the so-called "green diaper" (green is the colour of Islam), according to which young persons become terrorists because of being born into a religious environment and being given a sound religious education. The study examined the biographic data of more than 500 Islamic terrorists coming inter alia from Indonesia, Morocco, Pakistan, the US, Australia, France, Canada and Germany, who support the Al-Qaeda ideology and came to the conclusion that the majority of the extremists had not obtained a religious education. Only 13 per cent of them visited as children a so-called Madrassa (Koranic school) and only 25 per cent were already religious during their childhood. Their understanding of the Koran and the Sunna (words and deeds of the Prophet) would even be extremely limited, according to the published study findings. Particularly Islamists from Northern Africa and Europe, who pose today"s main threat for Europe, had started to read the Koran as late as in the age of mid-twenties. The terrorists interpreted original text sources by themselves or they followed radical Imams. Accordingly, Islamic instruction classes could help preventing terrorism.
Die Welt online 16.04.08

Interior ministers and government representatives adopt integration monitoring

At a meeting in Kiel on 10 April 2008, the ministers of the federal states in charge of integration affairs, the Integration Commissioner of the Federal Government, Maria Böhmer (CDU), and Federal Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU) agreed on developing checkable indicators to regularly measure the degree of integration. The Integration Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, Armin Laschet (CDU), said that instead of standing between multicultural naivety and integration-sceptical alertism it would be much more useful to describe objectives and to check if these are achieved. To this end, a working group, steered by the federal states of North Rhine-Westphalia and Berlin, is to elaborate a common definition of the feature of migration background and immigration history. The data obtained are to show who is immigrating successfully or not, which educational careers are followed, who is employed and if there are differences between young and old migrants. Moreover, the ministers want to establish a standing conference of ministers on integration. By doing so, the cooperation between the federal states on integration policy issues is to be given a stable foundation, said the Interior Minister of the federal state of Schleswig-Holstein, Lothar Hay (SPD).
Die Welt 08.04.08 // Der Spiegel online 09.04.08 // KNA 10.04.08 // Der Spiegel 10.04.08 // taz online 14.04.08

Muslims outraged at draft bill on BKA competencies

The planned amendments of the law to extend the competencies of the Federal Office of Criminal Investigation (BKA) in the fight against terrorism on which the Federal Interior Minister, Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU), and the Federal Minister for Justice, Brigitte Zypries (SPD), have agreed after lengthy negotiations over months have triggered off sharp reactions from Muslim representatives: Criticised are "double standards" being applied for the control competences of the BKA, i.e. in the draft bill it is foreseen to protect Christian priests and Jewish rabbis against online searches and bugging operations. Muslim clergymen, in contrast, are not to be granted such protection. The reasoning behind this provision is based on the different legal status of the religious communities: Since Islam, in contrast to Christianity and Judaism, is not recognised by the state as a religious community in Germany, Imams are not covered by the protective regulations the Code of Criminal Procedure provides for. Ali Kizilkaya, chairman of the coordination council of the Muslims, considered the provision a state-sanctioned discrimination and added it affected at a first glance only Muslims, basically, however, the constitutional state as a whole. Moreover, he said that Islam would be protected as a religious community by the German Basic Law; therefore, Imams could not be treated in a different way than priests. The absolute protection against bugging measures which is granted to Christian clergymen, would be an "extraordinary exception", remarked Wolfgang Bosbach and added that this required a acceptable justification. The CDU politician argued that it would not be possible to set-up special rights for Islam.
Der Spiegel online 16.04.08 // KNA 18.04.08

Hesse: Quarrels about ban on deportation of Afghan nationals

A debate has been triggered off between the Parliament and the executive government in the federal state of Hesse about the protection against deportation of Afghan refugees. With the votes of the SPD, the Green and the Left parties, the parliament decided on 9 April 2008 that young men capable of working may no longer be deported to their home country. In their decision, the applicants demand the federal state"s Interior Minister, Volker Bouffier (CDU), opts in favour of a nationwide protection against deportation at the Conference of the Interior Ministers, which should be applied to all persons except who had no provable safe and protected living conditions in the country of origin. Bouffier, who is not bound by the decision of the local parliament, rejects such protection, however. A ban on deportations would neither be in the interest of the federal state nor, in the end, in the interest of the persons affected, according to Bouffier who added that young men should rather help reconstruct the country. He referred to a decision taken by the Administrative Court of Hesse at the beginning of February according to which the deportation of young Afghan men would be legitimate. He said he would not come out against the decision of the Hessian Administrative Court. Tarek Al-Wazir of the Green party replied that it would not be true that the local parliament ignored a judgement of the Administrative Court and added that the Court had expressly pointed to the possibility that the federal state"s highest authority could issue a general ban on deportations.
SZ 11.4.08 // FAZ 11.04.08

Cologne: Poor German language skills remain without consideration in aptitude test

The municipal administration of the city of Cologne plans to change the aptitude tests for future civil servants in order to improve the employment opportunities of applicants with a migration background. According to the member of the city council, Susana dos Santos-Hermann (SPD), the objective is to increase the portion of municipal employees with a migration background. In order to be able to benefit from the challenges and the opportunities posed by a Europe that is growing ever closer together, it would be indispensable to constantly open the municipal administration to intercultural influences and to win skilled personnel with a migration background this way, said dos Santos-Hermann. Gregor Timmer of the Office for Press and Public Relations of the city of Cologne explained that the requirements to be fulfilled for a job in administration included - besides the ability to learn, to listen, to think mathematically, logics and precision as well as working speed - also the qualification criteria of language skills, an area where particularly applicants with a migration background achieved inferior results. Current scientific investigations had revealed, however, that language deficits of persons who have well-developed learning abilities would diminish over time. In order to take into account this special situation of applicants with a migration background, who achieved good results as regards the other qualification criteria, the Institute for Human Resource Recruitment of the city of Cologne will in future conduct the tests without taking into consideration the language skill feature.
Express online 02.04.08 // Press release of the city of Cologne 04.04.08

Lübeck: Integration course for elderly persons

In cooperation with the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF), the Jewish community of the city of Lübeck has now offered the first integration course in Germany that is particularly tailored to the needs of elderly people with a migration background. Elderly persons would often not have the language skills required to make use of and benefit from the opportunities offered for their age-group. Sabine Hagen, regional BAMF commissioner said that many elderly persons would be afraid of participating in the regular language courses since they believed not to be able to keep up with the younger participants. The head of administration of the Jewish community, Sonja Kanuschien, said that the participants would not only be taught language skills but they would be also informed about topics relevant for people in their ages such as where to find age-adequate dwellings or how a patient"s disposition works. The offer meets with very good response and the courses had immediately been booked out, according to Kanuschien.
Lübecker Nachrichten online 11.04.08

Study: Xenophobe attitudes wide-spread among youths

According to the findings of survey among school students conducted by the Criminological Research Institute of the federal state of Lower Saxony (KFN) for the Conference of the Interior Ministers (IMK), prejudices criticising foreigners or of xenophobic nature are wide-spread among German youths: Almost every third student in the ninth class of all kind of school types was of the opinion that there were too many foreigners in Germany. One out of five showed islamophobic attitudes. Within the framework of the survey, 50,000 students in the ninth class of different nationalities were interviewed in 61 towns.
dpa 17.04.08 // KNA 17.04.08

Asylum statistics

In April 2008, a total of 1,694 persons has submitted a petition for political asylum in Germany, which is an increase of 9.6 per cent (+149 persons) compared with the month before. Compared to April 2007, the number of asylum applicants has increased by 40.8 per cent (+491 persons). The main countries of origin in April were Iraq (447), Turkey (121), Serbia (120) and Vietnam (94) followed by the Russian Federation (66). In this month, the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees decided on the asylum applications of 1,604 persons. A total of 34 persons (2.1 per cent) were recognised as being entitled to asylum whereas 460 persons (28.7 per cent) were granted protection against deportation according to § 60, paragraph 1 of the Residence Act. The applications of 523 persons (32.6 per cent) were rejected. The cases of a further 518 persons (32.3 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 09.05.08

April 2008

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