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efms Migration Report

December 2004

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EU: expert panel presents report on human trafficking

The expert panel assigned by the European Commission to compile a report on possibilities of preventing human trafficking in the EU has presented its results on 22nd December 2004 to Franco Frattini, the EU Commissioner of Justice. In its report, the expert panel calls on EU member states to create additional channels for legal immigration. In the opinion of panel members, such regulated forms of legal immigration would have to comprise work permits and visas which are not restricted to one specific employer or type of work. Mr. Frattini has announced that the expert panel will expand on its report and present proposals in 2005 for fighting human trafficking.
FTD 23.12.04

Continuing integration debate in Germany

On 1st December 2004, the federal parliament has held a debate on the integration of non-German residents and the fight against radical Islamists. In the debate, several motions were put forward both by the government coalition ("Living together on the basis of shared values") and the opposition CDU/CSU parties ("Fighting political Islamism - supporting Muslims that live in accordance with the constitution"). The debate was marked by a heated controversy over the concept of a "Leitkultur" or German cultural identity, a term which had been coined by the CDU/CSU opposition. Claudia Roth, chairwoman of the Greens, demanded that the opposition "put an end to its self-deception" concerning non-German residents. "We are a country of immigration, Germany is a multicultural society", she exclaimed. The concept of a German "Leitkultur" has been rejected not only by the SPD and the Greens, but also by the opposition FDP party. The FDP Chairman Guido Westerwelle has suggested that round-table talks between religions groups should be initiated. Horst Köhler, the Federal President, and Günter Beckstein (CSU), the Bavarian interior minister, have pointed at worrying signs that "parallel societies" are developing in German cities. According to Mr. Beckstein, the attractiveness of the German welfare state apparently exerts a greater pull on many migrants than the attractiveness of German democracy and society. Mr. Müntefering, the SPD chairman and parliamentary leader, has warned against linking the fight against radical Islamism with questions concerning the integration of migrants in Germany. On 7th December 2004, the CDU party conference in Düsseldorf voted unanimously for a package of integration measures including proposals such as the obligation to take an oath on the constitution during naturalisation, imposing sanctions on migrants who are reluctant to integrate themselves into German society and harsher penalties for offenders. In addition, CDU party members demand that the age limit in family migration for children joining non-German residents in Germany should be lowered to six years. In addition, they want to ensure that non-German children can only attend primary school if they have acquired sufficient German-language skills. Marieluise Beck (Greens), the federal government commissioner for integration, has criticised both demands, pointing out that the proposed restrictions on family migration would violate EU law. Furthermore, delaying school registration for non-German children would be highly questionable, both for legal and educational reasons. Maria Weber (FDP), integration commissioner in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate, has criticised that the CDU proposals merely rehash already existing regulations. For example, the proposed ban of forced marriages has already been in force for a long time.
SZ 02.12.04 // FAZ 03.12.04 // SZ 03.12.04 // Focus 06.12.04 // Der Spiegel 06.12.04 // Der Spiegel 06.12.04 // Berliner Zeitung 06.12.04 // Der Spiegel 07.12.04 // Die Welt 09.12.04 // Berliner Zeitung 09.12.04 // International Herald Tribune 10.12.04 // SZ 11.12.04 // // NZ 20.12.04 // Berliner Zeitung 30.12.04

Immigration Act: integration directive

On 1st December 2004, the federal government issued a directive on the implementation of integration courses, which will become mandatory when the new Immigration Act takes effect on 1st January 2005. In courses coordinated by the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF), approximately 140,000 migrants newly arriving from non-EU countries will take part in a 600-hour German language course and a 30-hour orientation course on law, history and German culture. In 2005, the federal government will allocate € 208 million in order to fund these courses. The goal of the courses is to reach the language competence level B1 as defined in the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, which in turn will be a pre-condition for being granted an unlimited settlement permit and being eligible for fast-track naturalisation. If migrants should refuse to participate in the courses, even though local authorities have instructed them to do so, they face the risk of being expelled from the country. Furthermore, for up to 50,000 migrants who have already been residents of Germany for some time, the courses could also become mandatory if authorities declare a "special need for integration". This will be the case for the long-term unemployed or legal guardians of minors if the former are not able to speak the German language. The government directive is the result of a contentious debate lasting several weeks between federal interior minister Otto Schily (SPD) and the SPD and Green parliamentary parties. The conflict centred on the contribution of €1 per hour which course participants will be obliged to pay. Welfare recipients and some hardship cases are to be exempted from the obligation to pay. However, migrants living in difficult financial circumstances will still have to pay the contribution. MPs of the SPD and Green parliamentary parties have declared that this unequal treatment is "highly questionable from a constitutional point of view".
BMI Pressemitteilung 01.12.04 // CDU-Homepage 01.12.04 // SZ 02.12.04 // FR 02.12.04 // FAZ 02.12.04 // Berliner Morgenpost 05.12.04 // Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung 06.12.04 // Hamburger Abendblatt 14.12.04

Hans-Peter Kemper (SPD) new federal government commissioner for ethnic German immigrants

Hans-Peter Kemper (SPD), who has been appointed the new federal government commissioner for ethnic German immigrants (Aussiedler), has expressed the hope that the new regulations of the Immigration Act, which will tighten restrictions for the admission of ethnic German immigrants, will contribute to reducing the integration problems of ethnic German immigrants from Russia in particular. As of 1st January 2005, not only the ethnic German immigrants applying for admission, but also their accompanying family members will be obliged to take part in a test to prove that they have sufficient German language skills. In addition, Aussiedler will be entitled to receive language training in their current place of residence. According to Mr. Kemper, the composition of the group of ethnic German immigrants has changed tremendously over the last decades. Whereas in the early 1990s about 80% of the admissions were constituted by ethnic German immigrants, and only 20% by non-German accompanying family members, this ratio has been completely reversed today. In order to tackle the serious drug, alcohol and violence problems among young immigrants from Russia, Mr. Kemper puts his hope on compensatory integration measures, such as projects in cooperation with the German Sports Association. In addition, he aims to facilitate the administrative recognition of school and vocational certificates of Aussiedler as an important pre-condition for integration.
Die Welt 17.12.04 // FAZ 19.12.04 // Rheinische Post 27.12.04

Deportations before the new Immigration Act comes into effect

In December, refugee organisations have once again noticed a massive increase in deportations, immediately before the new immigration takes effect on 1st January 2005. According to the Asylum Working Group in Göttingen (Lower Saxony), authorities could be trying, apparently in accordance with requirements of state governments, to make politically active refugees in particular leave the country. According to a confidential decision by the interior ministers of the German states, Afghan refugees are only to be granted residence permits in 2005 after "repatriation measures have been launched for a larger group of Afghan nationals who are obliged to leave the country".
ND 02.12.04 // SZ 03.12.04 // SZ 10.12.04 // SZ 22.12.04 // taz 29.11.04

Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth presents study on daughters of migrants in Germany

A study on the daughters of migrants living in Germany entitled "Living in many worlds", which had been commissioned by the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (BMFSFJ), was presented in Berlin on 8th December 2004. The study is based on a survey of 950 unmarried girls and young women between 15 and 21 years of age of Turkish, Greek, Italian and former Yugoslavian origin, but also includes ethnic German immigrants. The underlying interviews were conducted in the years 2001 and 2002. The study constitutes the first time that the situation of non-German girls living in Germany has been surveyed in such detail. Issues that have been investigated include the role and significance of families, friendships, language and education, religion, concepts of relationships, sex roles and sexuality. According to Marieluise Beck (Greens), the federal government commissioner for integration, the results of the study clearly show that the school-leaving certificates obtained by migrant daughters are blatantly disproportionate to the expectations and the potential of most of these girls. Ms. Beck has therefore demanded that additional language training should be offered and that all-day education programmes should be expanded. Ursula Boos-Nünning, professor of education at the University of Duisburg-Essen and co-author of the study, has criticised that the debate on the integration of young female migrants often misses the point, especially as far as the every-day living conditions of these girls are concerned. In many cases, a wrong impression is created to the effect that young girls growing up in Muslim households are oppressed.
Der Spiegel 14.12.04 // 14.12.04 // Berliner Zeitung 15.12.04 // Die Welt 15.12.04 // NZ 15.12.04 // SZ 15.12.04 // FR 21.10.04

Most differences settled on tightened admission rules for Jewish immigrants

A quarrel on tightened admission regulations for Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe that had erupted between federal interior minister Otto Schily (SPD) and the Central Council of Jews in Germany has been settled for the most part. Mr. Schily has now agreed to draft the new regulations without the consent of the Jewish Council. As the underlying quota regulations from the year 1991 will expire when the new Immigration Act comes into effect, federal and state interior ministers had made a proposal for new regulations. Under this proposal, which was to take effect in 2006, prospective Jewish immigrants would only be admitted to Germany if they were younger than 45 years, financially independent, invited by a Jewish community and if they had provided proof of their German language skills. Of the 27,000 Jewish applicants for the year 2005, only a few hundred people would have fulfilled these conditions for immigration.
Berliner Zeitung 21.12.04 // SZ 22.12.04 // FR 22.12.04 // FAZ 29.12.04 // Berliner Zeitung 29.12.04

Federal Constitutional Court (BVerfG): entitlement to child and education benefits

The Federal Constitutional Court (BVerfG) in Karlsruhe has ruled that it is unconstitutional to exclude certain groups of migrants from receiving child and education benefits. As a result of two decisions by the court (Ref.: 1BvL4/97 und 1BvR2515/95), foreign residents who have only been granted a residence authorisation are entitled to receive child benefits. Similarly, foreign residents who have been granted a residence authorisation and a work permit are entitled to receive education benefits. The constitutional court has rejected the current differentiation between different groups of migrants in this matter as "incomprehensible" and called on legislators to review respective regulations of the Immigration Act, which will take effect on 1st January 2005, and pass new regulations until 1st January 2006.
taz 11.12.04 // FR 30.12.04

Federal Constitutional Court (BVerfG): Deportation of Metin Kaplan to Turkey was constitutional

In a decision published on 7th December 2004, the Federal Constitutional Court (BVerfG) has ruled that the deportation of Islamist leader Metin Kaplan to Turkey in October 2004 was constitutional. It has thus upheld an earlier ruling by the Upper Administrative Court in Münster (North-Rhine Westphalia) from 26th May 2004. Federal interior minister Otto Schily (SPD) has stated that, by means of the security regulations contained in the new Immigration Act, the federal government would ensure that similar cases could be processed faster in future. With the new regulations taking effect on 1st January 2005, expulsion orders by state governments or the federal interior ministry on the grounds of security risks for the Federal Republic of Germany can only be appealed against once, with the Federal Administrative Court being the court of last instance.
BMI Pressemitteilung 07.12.04 // SZ 08.12.04 // FR 16.12.04 // SZ 21.12.04 // FAZ 21.12.04

Federal Statistical Office: Benefits for asylum seekers have reached lowest levels

According to the Federal Statistical Office, the benefits received by asylum seekers have fallen to their lowest levels since 1994, when respective statistics were compiled for the first time. In 2003, 264,000 people, a decrease by 5.2% over 2002 and the lowest level since 1994, received vouchers, non-monetary or monetary benefits for their day-to-day requirements. 60% of the recipients of continuous welfare benefits were male, and more than 50% of the recipients were younger than 25 years. 47% of the recipients were of European origin, the largest group coming from Serbia and Montenegro (29%). A further 9% were of Turkish nationality, followed by 6% of Iraqi and 5% of Afghan nationality.
Die Welt 15.12.04

Asylum statistics

In December 2004, a total of 2,746 persons have submitted a petition for political asylum in Germany. The figure constitutes an increase of 3% (+81 persons) compared to November 2004. Compared to December 2003, however, the number of asylum seekers has declined by 19.6% (-670 persons). In December 2004, applicants' main countries of origin were Turkey (367), Serbia and Montenegro (334) and the Russian Federation (254), followed by Vietnam (146) and Azerbaijan (127). The Nuremberg-based Federal Office for the Recognition of Foreign Refugees (BAFL) has decided on the asylum petitions of 4,180 persons in December 2004, 66 of whom (1.6%) have been recognised as entitled to political asylum. A further 101 persons (2.4%) have been granted protection against deportation according to § 51 Par. 1 Foreigners Act (AuslG). The petitions of 2,617 persons (62.6%) have been rejected. The remaining 1,396 asylum petitions (33.4%) have been dismissed for other reasons (e.g. because applicants have withdrawn their petition).
Pressemitteilung BMI 23.01.05

Annual asylum figures 2004: number of asylum seekers has reached lowest level since 1984

With a total of 35,607 persons in the year 2004, the number of asylum seekers in Germany has been significantly lower than in the previous year (50,563 persons). In effect, the number of initial asylum petitions has returned to the level of the year 1984. This substantial decline also becomes obvious when one compares the figures for asylum seekers' countries of origin. The decrease has been most significant for asylum seekers from Iraq (-66.4%) and China (-50.3%). The only exceptions have been asylum seekers from Azerbaijan (+5.6%) and Nigeria (+7.5%), with an increase over the previous year. During 2004, asylum seekers' main countries of origin have been Turkey (4,148), Serbia and Montenegro (3,855), the Russian Federation (2,757), Vietnam (1,668) and Iran (1,369). The remaining countries among the ten main countries of origin have been Azerbaijan (1,363), Iraq (1,293), China (1,186), Nigeria (1,130) and India (1,118). The Federal Office for the Recognition of Foreign Refugees (BAFL) has decided on the asylum petitions of 61,961 persons in the year 2004 (compared to 93,885 in the previous year), 960 (1.5%) of whom have been recognised as entitled to political asylum. A further 1,107 persons (1.8%) have been granted protection against deportation according to § 51 Par. 1 Foreigners Act (AuslG). The petitions of 39,563 persons (63,9%) have been rejected. The asylum petitions of the remaining 20,331 persons (32.8%) have been dismissed for other reasons (e.g. because applicants have withdrawn their petitions or left the country).
Pressemitteilung BMI 23.01.05

December 2004

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