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efms Migration Report

August 2002

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Deutscher Städtetag raises doubts about timely implementation of immigration reform

Der Deutsche Städtetag (congress of municipal authorities) has published a statement to the effect that it will be impossible for local councils to implement the new immigration law within the specified time, i.e. until 1st January 2003. According to Petra Roth (CDU), president of the Deutsche Städtetag, the main problem is that the federal government has still not issued all the necessary administrative directives.

As the Federal Ministry of the Interior is not planning to issue the remaining directives before the federal parliamentary elections on 22nd September, and some of the directives also need to be approved by the Bundesrat (the upper house of parliament representing the 16 German states), Mrs. Roth considers it to be "virtually impossible" that the law can take effect as planned on 1st January 2003.

In addition, doubts remains as to how local authorities' increased demand for personnel and qualification measures will be met. In an effort to allay fears of local authorities, the Federal Ministry of the Interior has confirmed that all the necessary directives will be issued in good time.

Marieluise Beck, the Federal Government Commissioner for Foreign Resident Affairs, has expressed concerns that the immigration reform could lead to a situation where only mandatory integration programmes for new arrivals will be funded, whereas subsequent programmes for migrants that have been residents of Germany for several years could be neglected.
FAZ 09.08.02 // FR 09.08.02 // FR 24.08.02

CDU/CSU announce plans to restrict immigration as early as Summer 2003

Günther Beckstein (CSU), the Bavarian Minister of the Interior, has announced his intention, if CDU/CSU (the two main opposition parties) win the upcoming federal elections, to immediately take up negotiations with prospective coalition partners in order to amend the immigration reform passed by the present government coalition.

According to Mr. Beckstein, these amendments aim at "less immigration and more integration". His proposals include the following main points: sustaining the ban on recruitment programmes for third-country nationals, resolutely deporting foreign nationals without a residence status, as well as temporary residents who depend on welfare for their living. Furthermore, foreign nationals that unreasonably refuse to participate in integration courses are to be deported, too. In addition, Mr. Beckstein strictly opposes regulations in the new immigration law which allow migration inflows of non-German workers according to a credit system without individual job offers.

CDU/CSU have announced plans to pass a more restrictive immigration law as early as the first half of 2003. However, they have not ruled out the possibility of amending substantial parts of the present immigration law instead of abolishing it as a whole. These statements can be seen as a response to demands by the FDP, the CDU/CSU's prospective coalition partner, which supports an amendment of the immigration law, but has repeatedly rejected demands for repealing it as a whole.
Tagesspiegel 12.08.02 // BZ 13.08.02 // dpa 26.08.02 // FAZ 27.08.02 // FR 27.08.02 // NZ 27.08.02

Heated debate on whether citizenship law has led to increase in dual nationalities

The Federal Government and the CDU/CSU (the main opposition parties) are locked into a heated dispute as to whether the government's citizenship law has led to an increase in cases of dual nationality.

In response to a parliamentary enquiry submitted by the CDU/CSU opposition, the government has stated that 88,995 naturalised persons have been granted dual nationality in 2001, which amounts to a percentage of 48.3% (out of the total of 178,098 naturalisations). In 1999, i.e. before the citizehship law came into force, only 19,721 (13.8%) out of a total of 143,267 naturalised persons were granted dual nationality.

Both Günther Beckstein (CSU), shadow interior minister of the CDU/CSU opposition, and Wolfgang Bosbach (CDU), deputy parliamentary leader of the CDU/CSU, have criticised that the increase has confirmed their grave misgivings about the new citizenship law (which took effect as of 1st January 2000) leading to an increased acceptance of multiple nationalities.

However, Federal Interior Minister Otto Schily (SPD) has branded the criticism as a "dishonest numbers game", reminding the opposition of the fact that former CDU/CSU-led governments have also tolerated multiple nationalities to a large extent. As an example, he referred to the group of Aussiedler (ethnic German immigrants), who have often been granted dual nationality during naturalisation, even before the current immigration reform took effect.

Mr. Schily added that the statistical increase was mainly due to the fact that the new citizenship law allows children who are born in Germany to non-German residents to receive German citizenship in addition to their parents' nationality. Nevertheless, these children have to opt for one nationality as soon as they turn eighteen. Furthermore, according to Mr. Schily, the amended law also gives persons entitled to political asylum the possibility to be naturalised, even in cases where their country of origin does not allow them to give up their original nationality. In these cases, multiple nationality is accepted "pro forma" in order to spare persons entitled to political asylum the necessity of having further dealings with states in which they have been subject to persecution.

Marieluise Beck (Greens), the Federal Government Commissioner for Foreign Resident Affairs, has called the increase in naturalisations proof of "a positive trend towards integration". Since the reform of the nationality took effect two and a half years ago, 480,000 persons have been naturalised, i.e. respective figures have doubled compared to the time before the amendment.
Welt am Sonntag 04.08.02 // Press Statement BMI 04.08.02 // FAZ 05.08.02 // FR 05.08.02 // BZ 06.08.02 // SZ 24.08.02 // Welt 24.08.02

Hesse administrative court specifies requirements for language tests

The Hesse Higher Administrative Court (VGH) has been the first higher administrative court in Germany to specify requirements for German language tests which foreign nationals are legally required to pass before being naturalised. In a principle-establishing judgement, the VGH has ruled that applicants can only be certified sufficient German language skills, as required by Germany's Aliens Act, if they can prove their ability to communicate in the German language both orally and in writing.

In its explanation, the court has pointed out that when the legislative reformed Germany's nationality law, it has placed great emphasis on German language skills. In addition, the court has also stressed the fact that all applicants for naturalisation have to sign a written statement expressing their support for Germany's democratic political system and free society, which, of course, presupposes sufficient reading and writing skills.

In effect, the court has dismissed the appeal of a Turkish national who has been recognised as entitled to political asylum, but has not been naturalised because he has failed to pass both the dictation and the reading tasks in the German language test. The ruling is considered to be an important step towards harmonising the requirements for language tests, which have so far differed among the 16 federal states, leading to varying prospects of passing the German tests required for naturalisation.
dpa 20.08.02 // FAZ 20.08.02 // NZ 20.08.02 // FR 22.08.02 // NZZ 22.08.02

Ban of Al-Aqsa organisation on basis of new anti-terrorism laws

The Federal Ministry of the Interior has banned the Al-Aqsa organisation, a registered association that has been monitored by the authorities for the protection of the constitution for quite some time.

According to the Ministry, there is proof that the association, which officially collects donations in support of Palestinians in need, has in fact channelled funds to Hamas, a Palestinian organisation classified as a terrorist group. Federal Interior Minister Otto Schily (SPD) has also stated that there is evidence to the effect that Al-Aqsa has been using donations in order to support the families of Palestinian suicide bombers. In Mr. Schily's words, this amounts to no less than "supporting suicide bombings" and "psychological aiding and abetting". The Al-Aqsa organisation itself has always claimed that its activities are of a purely humanitarian nature. Mahmoud Amr, chairman of the association, has repeatedly denied any links between his organisation and Hamas.

Legally, the ban has been made possible by the passage of a new anti-terrorism law at the end of the year 2000 ("Security Package II"), which has abolished the so-called "religious privilege" in the Law on Associations.

Meanwhile, the CDU/CSU, the two main opposition parties, are lobbying for a further tightening of anti-terrorism laws. Bavarian Interior Minister Günther Beckstein (CSU), who is also the CDU/CSU shadow minister of the interior, has announced that CDU/CSU will pass a third anti-terrorism law if they win upcoming federal elections.

Among other things, this new law would make it possible to expel foreign residents on the mere basis of being suspected members of terrorist organisations. In addition, Mr. Beckstein has called for submitting all applications for residence permits to the authorities for the protection of the constitution; in his view it should be mandatory for all applicants to be monitored for extremist affiliations before being granted a residence status.
Spiegel 05.08.02 // FAZ 06.08.02 // taz 06.08.02 // SZ 10.08.02 // Focus 12.08.02 // dpa 22.08.02

Asylum statistics

The downward trend in the number of asylum applications has continued. In August 2002, a total of 5,780 persons has submitted petitions for political asylum in Germany, a sharp decrease by 3,358 persons (-36.7%) over August 2001. Compared to July 2002, there has also been a slight decrease by 167 persons (-2.8%). The main countries of origin were Iraq (910), Turkey (750), the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (551), followed by the Russian Federation (324) and Iran (231). A striking fact has been the increase in the number of applicants from Iraq (by 20% over the previous month), which stands in clear contrast to the general downward trend.

In August 2002, the Federal Office for the Recognition of Foreign Refugees has passed decisions on asylum applications of 11,276 persons. 1.2% (135) of all applicants have been recognised as entitled to political asylum. An additional 1.3% (143) have been recognised as protected against deportation according to §51 Par.1 Aliens Act. 55.3% of all applications have been rejected.

Human rights organisations have criticised the Federal Office for its decisions concerning the protection of asylum applicants from Iraq against deportation. The organisations argue that even though a war in Iraq is becoming more and more likely, the percentage of asylum applicants from Iraq who have been recognised as protected against deportation according to §51 Par.1 Aliens Act (the so-called "little asylum"), has sharply fallen, from 58% in 2001 to 26% during the first seven months of 2002. The recognition rate according to Art. 16a Basic Law has remained unchanged at 4%.

In response to the criticism, the Federal Office has stated that many asylum applicants are not recognised as they have access to "alternative safe havens in Northern Iraq". However, no deportations are being carried out at present due to the UN flight embargo.
FR 24.08.02 // taz 03.09.02 // Press Statement BMI 08.09.02

August 2002

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