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efms Migration Report

August 2006

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EU: Lack of support to enable Spain to cope with the streams of refugees criticised

At a meeting with the Spanish deputy prime minister, Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega, in Brussels on 30 August 2006, the EU Commissioner for Home Affairs and Justice, Franco Frattini, admitted that the EU would provide an insufficient number of ships and helicopters to efficiently support Spain in coping with the streams of African refugees arriving at the Canary Islands. With the support of four EU countries (Finland, Italy, Portugal and Spain), the EU Border Agency Frontex has launched a campaign under the code name "Hera II" as late as mid-August. So far, the EU patrols are limited to the coasts of Mauritania and the Canary Islands. Following the agreement of the Senegalese government on 21 August 2006, however, they soon will be extended to comprise Senegalese waters, too. Up to now and despite the commencement of the joint patrols off the coast of northwest Africa, the stream of refugees has even slightly increased - of the total of 18,000 African migrants that have arrived since the beginning of the year, more than 1,600 arrived at the Canary Islands in the last week of August alone. Frattini stressed that illegal migration would not be the problem of just one country but would rather concern all European countries. He showed understanding for the frustration of the Spanish government and complained that some EU countries would resist a common immigration policy. Against the background that the Commission would have no more funds available, he passed on the Spanish request for more support to the other EU member states and promised to address the refugee issue again at the conference of the EU Interior Ministers that will be held in the Finnish city of Tampere at the end of September.
NZZ 05.08.06 // NN 12.08.06 // taz 27.08.06 // FAZ 30.08.06 // NZZ 31.08.06 // SZ 31.08.06

Complaint before the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD)

Following the decisions taken by courts in the federal state of Brandenburg, the Central Council of the German Sinti and Roma has made a complaint before the CERD. According to information of the Central Council, this is the first complaint filed against Germany which is based on Article 14 of the "International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination". This decision was taken against the background that the public prosecutor"s office of the town of Neuruppin has suspended investigations about incitement to hatred and violence against minority groups previously initiated against a Bavarian police officer who had written in a letter to the editor of the magazine of the Federation of German detective officers (Bund Deutscher Kriminalbeamter - BDK) that Sinti and Roma would be "confidence tricksters, defrauders and scroungers of social welfare benefits". This decision has been confirmed by the Chief Public Prosecutor"s Office and the Higher Regional Court of the federal state of Brandenburg. The minister-president of Brandenburg, Matthias Platzeck (SPD), supports the position of the Central Council and condemned the "shameful statements" made by the police officer. He added to be willing to support again the introduction of stricter laws to fight racial crimes of violence. With its complaint before the UN Committee, the Central Council wants to achieve that criminal offences with a racial background will in future be more often considered to be crimes and become subject to stricter punishments.
SZ 29.08.06 // SZ 30.08.06

Negative impact of failed terrorist attacks in regional trains on Islam dialogue

On 31 July 2006, "suitcase bombs" were placed in two regional trains from the city of Aachen to Hamm and from Mönchengladbach to Koblenz, which did not explode due to technical failures. Suspects are the Lebanese nationals Jihad H. and Youssef Mohamed E.H. According to the Federal Office of Criminal Investigation (BKA) the attacks with an Islamic background were, inter alia, due to the publishing of the Muhammad cartoons in German newspapers which were perceived as an attack of the western world against Islam. Due to the foreign origin of the suspects, some politicians of the grand coalition proposed to introduce finger print controls for nationals entering Germany from states that are considered to pose an increased risk of terrorism. That way, they argued, German security services could verify concerns against the issue of visas at the application stage already. Moreover, federal interior minister Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU) and the spokesman for interior affairs of the SPD group in the federal parliament, Dieter Wiefelspütz, made an appeal to the Muslims living in Germany to declare themselves more clearly against terror. The Central Council of Muslims in Germany refused the accusations, arguing that extremist tendencies in mosques would have been reported to the authorities for a long time already. The secretary-general of the Central Council of Muslims, Mayzek, criticised that categorical suspicions against Muslims would strengthen the positions of Islamic hardliners and increase the risk of dividing the society. This would have a strong negative impact on the efforts of the Central Council to establish a dialogue. Also the chairman of the Islamic Council, Ali Kizilkaya, complained about "general suspicions pronounced more or less openly against Muslims". The chairman of the Turkish Community, Kenan Kolat, made an appeal to politicians to maintain having an eye on things in a realistic way and added that terrorist attacks would be condemned by the Turkish society as well.
Press release BKA 18.08.06 // Press release BMI 18.08.06 // Die Zeit 24.08.06 // Netzzeitung (online) 24.08.06 // FR 25.08.06 // FR 26.08.06 // tagesschau (online) 28.08.06 // FR 31.08.06

Planned right to stay for tolerated persons leads to quarrels and more deportations

In the debate about granting a right to stay to foreigners who have been living for years in Germany without any secure status, no agreement seems to be within reach for the time being. While federal interior minister Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU) is in favour of a settlement of the so-called backlog cases affecting nearly 200,000 families, the Bavarian interior minister Günther Beckstein said that with him being minister an agreement would be possible only within "very strict limits, if at all". Those who wished to stay needed to be integrated more than just on average. In addition, Beckstein claimed that asylum seekers or refugees who have managed to stay in Germany so far by way of long legal actions should not be granted the right to stay. The interior ministers of SPD-governed federal states as well as the CDU politician Wolfgang Bosback have refused such position, arguing that those making use of all legally available possibilities should not be disadvantaged. According to the organisation Pro Asyl, the discussion about the right to stay currently leads to an increase in the number of deportations: foreigners" authorities would return persons to disaster and war regions without considering the consequences in a kind of "last minute panic". It would be cynical to deport exactly those persons who are likely to be granted the right to stay within the next three months. In the foreigners" authorities in Frankfurt and Offenbach, the increased number of deportations was criticised even internally.
NN 07.08.06 // SZ 07.08.06 // SZ 08.08.06 // Die Welt 08.08.06 // FR 09.08.06 // BZ 11.08.06 // FR 24.08.05

Grand coalition to extend integration courses for immigrants

Within the framework of a reform of the Immigration Act, representatives of the Union parties and the SPD agreed to extend the length of courses from currently 630 hours to about 900 hours. This decision was taken against the background that less than one third of the course participants would pass the final tests and that the language skills aimed at would be attained only by few immigrants. However, there might be the possibility that an extension of the courses could only be funded for youths and women. The FDP party and the Federal Association of German Private Schools (VDP e.V.) criticised that the integration courses needed to be extended to comprise at least 1,200 hours. The coalition government is also considering the possibility to increase the remunerations paid for the courses. Several institutions in charge of holding the courses such as the adult education centres of the Volkshochschule have complained that the remunerations paid so far would be insufficient. The spokesman of the Green Party for migration policy affairs, Josef Winkler, criticised that the proposals announced would be in contradiction to the budget plans for the year 2006: In these plans it has been foreseen to cut the funds made available for integration courses by one third to a total of 141 million euros.
The Green Party (online) 08.08.06 // FDP Group in the Bundestag (online) 08.08.06 // SZ 08.08.06 // FR 09.08.06 // Die Welt 09.08.06 // VDP 09.08.06

Immigration of highly-skilled persons to be facilitated following requests of the industry

In order to "lure" more highly skilled specialists to Germany, the president of the Federation of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce (DIHK), Ludwig Georg Braun, and the president of the German Employers" Association, Dieter Hundt, have claimed the introduction of point scoring system according to the models employed in Australia and Canada. Immigration could be controlled that way by means of certain qualifications such as vocational training skills, practical labour experience and language skills. "Those who want to attract the best experts worldwide should not lock them out", said Hundt. It would be completely erroneous to believe that cutting off the labour market from foreign specialists would lead to a higher number of Germans to be employed. The number of no more than hardly 140 highly skilled experts who have immigrated in the first quarter of this year showed that Germany has lost a long time ago its former attractiveness. According to the Federal Ministry of Labour, only about 900 highly skilled experts were granted a settlement permit in 2005. A year before, yet around 2,300 IT experts came to Germany. Also the Integration Minister of the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia, Armin Laschet (CDU), claimed to revise the Immigration Act in this respect. Both, the federal interior minister, Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU), and the spokesman of internal affairs of the SPD, Dieter Wiefelspütz, signalled their consent to facilitate the immigration of younger highly skilled experts up to the age of about 30 years. The provision in force so far, according to which highly skilled experts need to earn at least a annual salary of 85,000 euros, is to be changed with the minimum salary being cut by one third to about 64,000 euros. A point scoring system as demanded by Braun and Hundt, however, is refused by Union politicians such as the Bavarian interior minister, Günther Beckstein (CSU). The grand coalition also refused to amend the laws in favour of self-employed specialists, who up to now need to invest one million euros and create at least 10 jobs. Many representatives of the economy do not understand this regulation.
Der Spiegel (online) 03.08.06 // BZ 04.08.06 // NN 04.08.06 // SZ 05.08.06 // tagesschau (online) 05.08.06 // Handelsblatt 07.08.06 // NN 12.08.06

Federal Ministry of the Interior issues ban on decisions on asylum applications and orders a suspension of deportations of Lebanese nationals

Against the background of the fights in the Near East, federal interior minister Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU) has recommended the federal states - which are in charge of deportations - to issue a temporary ban on deportations for the about 5,500 Lebanese nationals living in Germany on the basis of toleration certificates. Moreover, Schäuble issued a temporary order of up to six months to the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) not to take decisions on asylum applications of Lebanese nationals. Against the backdrop of the situation in Lebanon it would be particularly difficult to clarify the personal situation of applicants, which would be the basis for taking decisions on asylum applications.
SZ 05.08.06

Federal Employment Agency and North Rhine-Westphalia promote vocational training opportunities for migrant youths

Even within this vocational training year, the Federal Employment Agency (Bundesagentur für Arbeit - BA) wants to create 5,000 additional off-the-job training posts for foreign youths who are still without vocational training job. Another 2,500 posts are to be created at the beginning of 2007. The overall costs for the next three years will amount to 165 million euros. Those of the youths seeking a vocational training post who have a migrant background would face particular problems when looking for vocational training opportunities, said the chairman of the Federal Employment Agency, Frank-Jürgen Weise, when explaining the efforts taken. The immediate action programme comprises training-on-the-job opportunities and the teaching of expert skills as well as provision of social counselling by job training centres. Also in North Rhine-Westphalia migrant youths will be supported in improving their job training opportunities within the action plan called "14plus" organised by the federal state"s government. At three schools in the cities of Ahlen and Münster, school students from the age of 14 get application training as well as individual job and talent counselling. With the support funds amounting to 400,000 euros, additional social workers and social education workers will be employed as well. According to integration minister, Armin Laschet (CDU), the experiences gained with the pilot project are to be transferred to all secondary and comprehensive schools in the federal state after a launching period of 17 months.
WDR (online) 15.08.06 // FR 16.08.06 // Zweiwochendienst (online) 16.08.06

Berlin: construction of a mosque and a cultural centre prohibited

In the quarrels between the Muslim organisation of Inssan und the Berlin district of Neukölln that have been ongoing since 2003, the town counsellor for construction affairs and vice-mayor, Stefanie Vogelsang (CDU), ordered not to grant the association a special permit to build a mosque or a cultural centre due to concerns about the fulfilment of legal construction requirements. Moreover, she accused the owner of the premises, measuring 4,700 square metres in size, Ibrahim El-Zayad, of maintaining relations with the Islamistic Muslim brotherhood. Therefore, the granting of a permit would have had an adverse impact on the integration of migrants. The former commissioner for foreigners" affairs of Berlin, Barbara John (CDU), has expressed herself indignantly about Vogelsang"s action and argued that the member base of Inssan would consist of "serious and honest young people" that would be in favour of a European Islam. Also the Catholic Church criticised the decision and added that the wish of Muslims to have a visible place to pray would be comprehensible and a good sign.
BZ 02.08.06 // BZ 03.08.06

Bavaria establishes hardship commission

As one of the last federal states, Bavaria establishes as of 1 September 2006 - on a temporary test basis covering initially one year - a hardship commission for foreigners who are obliged to leave the country. The nine members of the commission that are entitled to vote and who were appointed by interior minister Günther Beckstein (CSU) belong to the Protestant and the Catholic churches, the Bavarian work group of independent institutions of welfare work and the municipal umbrella organisations. The Ministry of the Interior, however, is not bound by their decisions, which require a two-third majority and that cannot be appealed. The commission cannot be appealed by third parties or the persons affected themselves and will only deal with hardship cases that have been brought forward by the petition committee of the federal state"s parliament or by members of the commission themselves. Hardship procedures do not have any suspensive effect on the obligation of a refused asylum seeker to leave the country. Beckstein said that there would be no doubt that the establishment of the commission would not mark a change in the Bavarian foreigners" policy and added that "if the number of hardship cases amounts to hundreds, then the Interior Minister will no longer follow [the decisions, added by efms]."
SZ 10.08.06 // NN 11.08.06 // SZ 11.08.06

Asylum statistics

In August 2006, a total of 1,899 persons have submitted a petition for political asylum in Germany. The figure constitutes an increase of 36.6 per cent (+509 persons) compared to July 2006. Compared to August 2005, the number of asylum seekers has declined by 21.6 per cent (-524 persons). Like in July, the main countries of origin in August 2006 were Serbia and Montenegro (258), Iraq (224) and Turkey (173) followed by the Russian Federation (93) and Vietnam (88). In August 2006, the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees has reviewed the petitions of 2,422 asylum seekers, 14 (0.6 per cent) of whom have been recognised as entitled to political asylum. A further 75 persons (3.1 per cent) have been granted protection against deportation according to §60, paragraph 1, Residence Act. The applications of 1,461 persons (60.3 per cent) have been rejected. The cases of another 872 persons (36.0 per cent) have been closed for other reasons, for example because applicants have withdrawn their petitions.
Press release BMI of 07.09.06

August 2006

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