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efms Migration Report

December 2006

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EU Summit: Agreement on wide-ranging European migration policy

At the occasion of the EU summit held on 15 December 2006 in Brussels, the heads of government of the EU Member States agreed on a wide-ranging migration policy on EU level. For the first time, the EU is not only to protect its external borders and to fight against illegal migrants but also to control legal immigration. By reaching an agreement, the heads of government accepted the core points of the concept on "circulatory migration" proposed by Germany and France. In this concept it is foreseen to allow the EU to negotiate with third-countries on legal immigration to Europe. This is particularly aimed at increasing the willingness of countries of origin to cooperate in the taking-back of migrants who have entered the EU illegally. According to the heads of government, the migration policy is to be closely linked to the foreign policy and the development aid. Further topics discussed at the summit comprised: a harmonisation of national asylum provisions, which is to be further extended by setting-up expert teams on asylum issues and the possibility of establishing a European Asylum Agency as well as by expanding the European border control agency Frontex located in Warsaw. Together with the southern European states, Frontex is to set-up a network of costal patrols on a permanent basis. In Germany, the concept of "circulatory migration" has been criticised by the CDU/CSU parties which have doubts about the possibility of carrying through the return of guest workers to their home countries. The vice-chairman of the Union parties, Wolfgang Bosbach, warned about the wide gap between theory and practice that would exist and added that those who were interested in residing in Germany would try to stay in the country. Moreover, the spokesman for interior policy affairs of the CSU in the European Parliament, Manfred Weber, is concerned about a creeping shifting of competences from national to EU level. The Federal Ministry of the Interior, however, stressed that the regulation of the access of migrants to the labour market would remain a national responsibility anyway. The idea behind granting temporary residence titles for labour purposes would be also the fight against illegal migration.
SZ 17.12.06 // Die Welt 22.12.06

Spain: Further legalisation of a large number of illegal immigrants likely

Next year, between 400,000 and 600,000 foreigners living illegally in Spain might possibly obtain the right to remain on a legal basis. This could become possible on the basis of the yet hardly employed provision on the so-called "rooting in the society". Accordingly, illegal immigrants can be granted the right to remain if they have been living for three years in the country already, if they have an employment contract, have family members living in the country and if they have no criminal records. Spanish lawyers pointed out that there are at least 400,000 immigrants that would be eligible according to these criteria. Even last year, already 600,000 illegal immigrants were legalised, which triggered off harsh critics by other EU Member States that considered this measures as encouraging potential illegal immigrants. Following protests from other EU partners, the government of president Zapatero promised to refrain from such mass legalisations in future. As an alternative to mass legalisations, the Spanish government has introduced one year ago official quota to cover its work force demand. Until the end of September of 2006, about 150,000 persons could immigrate this way to Spain to take up work; a quota of 180,000 grants is foreseen for 2007.
Der Standard online 09.12.06 // NZZ 29.12.06

Expertise for BMI: Integration courses for foreigners need to be considerably improved

In an expertise commissioned by the Federal Ministry of the Interior, the integration courses forming a core element of the new Immigration Act of 2005, have been marked only just "satisfactory". One of the core verdicts of the expertise is that even tough the implementation of the courses so far would be in principle target-oriented and functional, central areas of activities needed to undergo fundamental improvements with regard to their efficiency. The following measures to improve integration courses have been proposed: Firstly, the introduction of compulsory final exams and evaluation tests to arrange the composition of the course participants according to their knowledge level in a better way. Secondly, the use of a "flexible number of instruction hours" instead the currently employed scheme comprising 600 hours with the former being differentiated according to previous knowledge base and the learning progress of the participants. Thirdly, the extension of child care offers against the backdrop that 40 per cent of the course terminations would be due to a lack in child care services; and fourthly, the introduction of obligation and sanction mechanisms to improve the accessibility to the migrants and to guarantee their attendance. On the basis of the expertise, the Federal Ministry of the Interior needs to present the federal parliament a report on the experiences gathered in the implementation and financing of the integration courses, which is to be finished by 1 July 2007.
Der Tagesspiegel online 19.12.06

German Football Association: New integration commissioner

Gül Keskinler is the new integration commissioner of the German Football Association (DFB) and has become advisory member of the DFB executive board with immediate effect. She will be in charge of voluntarily coordinating the integration work of the 21 local associations of the DFB. The Istanbul-born woman, who came to Germany in 1970, said that it would be a difficult but also nice task to work in an association comprising 6.5 million members who are organised in 26,000 sport clubs. First of all, she said, the underlying idea of the concept of integration needed to be introduced and implemented on the different organisational levels of the association.
FR 06.12.06

Schäuble invites representatives of Muslims to presentation of "Idomeneo" opera

Federal Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU) invited all participants of the Islam Conference to visit the new presentation of the Mozart opera of "Idomeneo" given on 18 December 2006 in the Deutsche Oper in Berlin. By inviting the representatives of Muslims, Schäuble wants to show that also Muslims appreciate the freedom of speech and culture. In the run-up of the visit, the representatives of the Central Council of Muslims and the Islam Council had announced to boycott the presentation. Aiman Mazyek, secretary general of the Central Council of Muslims, said he would feel politically exploited and justified his negative reply by stating that he would neither be an art critic nor be in charge of questions of taste in his function as representative of a religious community. A representative of the Islam Council, Ali Kizilkaya, considered Schäuble"s invitation a bit populist. In the end, he visited the opera but did not see the presentation. Instead, he sought the dialogue with the press. Schäuble commented that he would be satisfied if someone expressed his agreement that the opera could be presented by simply being present. Among other visitors of the opera were for instance Bekir Alboga, representative of the largest Mosque association, the Turkey-oriented organisation Ditib. Also numerous German politicians such as the Integration Commissioner of the federal government, Maria Böhmer (CDU) and the Minister of State for Culture, Bernd Neumann (CDU), were present.
Die Zeit 20.12.06

Central Council of Jews claims again to ban NPD party

Against the backdrop of the electoral success of the NPD party and the high number of right-wing motivated crimes the call for banning the NPD has evolved again. Particularly the Central Council of Jews is contributing to the debate on a ban of this party. At the elections to the local parliament of the federal state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern in September, the NPD polled 7.3 per cent of the votes. In Berlin, the NPD is represented in several district parliaments. In the federal state of Saxony, NPD MoPs have been in the local parliament in Dresden for two years. The vice-president of the Central Council of Jews, Dieter Graumann, said that the NPD ban needed to be brought again on the political agenda without delay; politicians and the society needed to be determined in taking actions against right-wing extremism. The Interior Minister of Saxony-Anhalt, Holger Hövelmann (SPD), expressed himself also in favour of an NPD ban for being convinced that this party was unconstitutional and pointed in this context to the extension of the party"s base by using neo-Nazi comradeships. The prime minister of Thuringa, Dieter Althaus (CDU), is sceptical about a ban and said he would clearly favour dealing with extremists on a political level. Volker Beck, member of the Green Party, even warned of an NPD ban since the problems with regard to right-wing extremism would not be solved that way and the supporters would look for new forms of organisation upon a ban.
BZ 28.12.06

Asylum seekers from Sri Lanka are refused

Almost all asylum applications of refugees from civil-war-torn Sri Lanka are refused by the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) for being "manifestly unfounded". Since August, almost all of the twenty applications filed by Tamils were refused on that grounds. The current Situation Report of the Federal Foreign Office of 11 December 2006, however, talks about a "factual state of war" existing in Sri Lanka since the end of July 2006. The refugee organisation Pro Asyl and medico international have asked the BAMF to immediately refrain from its decision practice. An asylum application should be considered as "manifestly unfounded" only in case there is clear and consistent information available.
Medico intenational 21.12.06

North Rhine-Westphalia: Proportion of migrants in police forces to be increased

The police in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) want to employ more persons with migration background. Already since 1993 it has been possible in NRW to hire foreign citizens to serve in the police forces. The number of hired migrants, however, fell from 75 in the year 2002 to 38 out of the total of 500 new members of the police forces in 2006. Of the total of 39,000 police members in this federal state only 120 inspectors are of foreign origin. Even though the police service would be quite appreciated among migrant families, according to Heinrich Loh, head of the human resource department of the police services located in Münster, the number of applicants failing the police entrance exams would be unfortunately too high, however. The Interior Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, Ingo Wolf (FDP), said that more persons in the police service with a migration background would contribute to strengthening the mutual understanding and acceptance. The Integration Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, Armin Laschet (CDU), pointed out that every fourth citizens would have a migration background, a fact which also needed to be reflected in the composition of the members of the police services.
Westdeutsche Allgemeine online 07.12.06

Saxony: Increasing number of school students with migration background wants to finish school with Abitur

According to the Saxon Ministry of State for Education and Culture, the proportion of migrants visiting grammar schools has been continuously increasing over the past years. While the proportion in the school year 2002/2003 had been at 13 per cent, it rose to 18 per cent in 2005/2006. In 2000, an integration concept was launched which comprised inter alia a dedicated counselling service on school opportunities, the employment of student minders and the introduction of preparatory classes. The Saxon Minister for Education and Culture, Steffen Flath, said that the recent development was evidence for being on the right way. However, the integration of migrants needed to be further developed in the years to come.
Bildungsklick online 11.12.06

Berlin-Kreuzberg: First Turkish nursing home inaugurated

On 15 December 2006, Germany"s first Turkish nursing home for elderly persons was opened in the Kreuzberg district of Berlin. The joint project of the Turkish community of Berlin and the hospital operator Marseille-Kliniken takes into consideration cultural and religious customs of senior Turkish citizens: The needs of these citizens are met by offering a prayer room, Turkish-speaking care personnel, Turkish meals, oriental interior designs and a cultural-sensitive treatment of the tenants. The number of senior Turkish citizens in Germany reflects the further demand for such care institutions. According to Celal Altun, the secretary general of the Turkish communities, meanwhile there are about 350,000 Turkish seniors living in Germany. In Berlin alone, 11,000 Turkish citizens would be older than 65 years; in a few years" time, the number is expected to double, said Altun. With regard to the risk of isolation, Altun said that finally the thing was that those citizens could enjoy their last part of life and there would be no need to discuss about integration with persons in need of nursing services.
FR 11.12.06 // Handelsblatt 13.12.06 // BZ 14.12.06

VGH Baden Württemberg: Assumption of father"s role does not protect against deportation

On 18 December 2006, the Higher Administrative Court (VGH) of Baden Württemberg published a decision, according to which the assumption of the father"s role for the child of his partner would not protect a foreigner living in Germany against deportation. An Albanian man from Serbia-Montenegro has invoked on the protected status of the family, which is guaranteed by the German Basic Law. The highest administrative court refused the argumentation by stating that the Basic Law would link the concept of family protection to legally recognised or biological paternities; a mere assumption of the father"s role would not be sufficient.
Press release VGH Baden Württemberg 18.12.06 // FR 19.12.06

OVG Rhineland-Palatinate: Christians from Iraq not entitled to asylum

On 6 December 2006, the Higher Administrative Court (OVG) of the federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate declared that Christians from Iraq would not be entitled to asylum. They would not be subject to targeted religious persecution which needs to be given to uphold their refugee status. Both Christians and Muslims would rather be victims of the same violence prevailing in Iraq, which could affect equally everybody in such civil-war-like situation. The Society for Threatened Peoples (Gesellschaft für bedrohte Völker - GfbV), however, reports that both Assyro-Chaldeans and Maneans would be threatened in Iraq. Every day, they and their churches would be targets of attacks. With a view to the German EU Presidency, the GfbV wants to ask Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) in an open letter to support the granting of a right to remain to the about 20,000 Christians living in Germany.
Press release OVG Rhineland-Palatinate 6.12.06 // taz online 07.12.06 // FR 07.12.06

Asylum statistics

In December 2006, a total of 1,516 persons have submitted a petition for political asylum in Germany. The figure constitutes a decrease of 13.3 per cent (-233 persons) compared to November 2006. Compared to December 2005, the number of asylum seekers has declined by 27.7 per cent (-581 persons). In December 2006, the main countries of origin were Iraq (193), Serbia (137), Turkey (130), the Russian Federation (71), followed by Vietnam (60). In December, the Federal Office has decided on the applications of 2,526 persons, 17 of whom (0.7 per cent) have been recognised as entitled to political asylum. A further 161 applicants (6.4 per cent) have been granted protection against deportation according to §60, paragraph 1, Residence Act. The applications of 1,486 persons (58.8 per cent) have been rejected. The cases of a further 862 persons (34.1 per cent) have been closed for other reasons (e.g. due to suspensions of asylum procedures because persons have withdrawn their applications).
Press release BMI 09.01.07

December 2006

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