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efms Migration Report

December 1997

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Schengen Agreement: Austrian border controls to be eliminated

With Austria"s entry to the Schengen group on December 1, 1997, Bayern began with the gradual reduction of border controls. The Bavarian interior ministry announced that the border police had been withdrawn from 25 small border crossing posts. The controls at 25 middle-sized posts will be discontinued within the month. Parallel to the reductions, Bayern has commenced the so-called Schleierfahndung (special random checks and investigations) which will involve calling in 1,200 active border police. These officials will carry out random personal and automobile checks within an approximately 30-kilometer wide strip of land along the border. Border controls of inland flights to and from Austria have also been discontinued.
FR 1.12.97 // SZ 2.12.97

Repatriation treaty with Hungary concluded

Germany has concluded an agreement with Hungary regarding the repatriation of refugees whereby Hungary is obliged to readmit citizens from so-called safe third countries who entered Germany illegally via Hungary.
FR 2.12.97

Measures against bogus marriages

According to the Green Party European Parliament member, Claudia Roth, EU interior and justice ministers passed a resolution at their meeting in Luxemburg to take steps to counteract so-called bogus marriages. The decision, said Claudia Roth, was not discussed either in the German or the European parlament and would have to be integrated into German alien law by the beginning of 1999. The EU ministers formulated a list of measures including a series of indications of bogus marriages such as the lack of a "partnership for life", an excessive age difference or the lack of support payments. The authorities are advised to get information concerning suspected couples from third persons, family members or neighbors.
taz 5.12.97

Kanther: "warning file" to combat asylum abuse

Federal Minister of the Interior, Manfred Kanther has introduced the draft of a bill to supplement the Central Register of Aliens set up in 1994. This bill would provide for a warning file which would assist officials at welfare offices, the police and German agencies abroad by giving them access to stored information. This file would record information about all persons who have been implicated in immigrant smuggling or have infringed against German alien-law regulations. The file could, according to Kanther, facilitate granting visas and prevent the abuse of social benefits. In addition, Kanther wishes to introduce an "asylum card" which would contain the complete personal data of asylum seekers. This card would enable officials to expedite the asylum procedure. Data protectionists criticize Kanther"s plans. Thilo Weichert, the chairman of the German union for data protection, feels that existing instruments are sufficient for combatting the abuse of social benefits. Weichert sees Kanther"s plan as a mere attempt to erect ever higher walls around the "fortress of Europe".
dpa 2.12.97 // FAZ 3.12.97 // SZ 3.12.97 // taz 3.12.97 // dpa 22.12.97 // Welt 22.12.97

UNHCR report: Germany one of the main receiving countries for refugees

According to the annual report of the refugee relief agency of the United Nations (UNHCR), Germany is one of three countries sheltering more than a million refugees within their territories. At the head of the list is Iran with two million refugees, followed by Pakistan and Germany with 1.2 million refugees each. The report states, moreover, that about half of all asylum-seekers in Western Europe in 1996 filed for asylum in Germany. The UNHCR criticizes, however, western industrial societies whose restrictive refugee policies had not solved the asylum problem but merely transferred it to poorer countries. According to UNHCR data, there are worldwide 50 million persons in flight from their countries; among these are approximately 25 million inland refugees who do not enjoy UNHCR protection.
dpa 8.12.97 // FAZ 9.12.97 // FR 9.12.97

Criminal offenders may be deported inspite of deportation protection

The High Court of Administration (OVG) in Münster decided in a basic-policy resolution that alien offenders who have been sentenced to at least three years imprisonment can be deported even if they have deportation-protection. Foreigners acquire deportation-protection for example by residing in Germany for a long period. Justifying their decision, the judges stated that in cases where the general welfare and safety are at stake, deportation has priority over protection status. The objective of the new regulation, said the judges, was to add to penal sanctions another deterrent to potential foreign offenders.
FAZ 11.12.97 // FR 11.12.97

Initiatives to reform citizenship law fail

The ruling party coalition has defeated opposition-party initiatives to reform citizenship law in both the Bundestag and the Bundestag committee on domestic affairs. In the committee on domestic affairs the CDU/CSU and the FDP refused to confer on a total of ten bills and petitions which provided for introducing dual citizenship for foreign children born in Germany. Also unsuccessful was a Bundestag initiative of the Green Party to get the Bundestag to sign a European Council convention to facilitate dual citizenship throughout Europe. With the majority of the coalition parties, the Bundestag referred the Green-Party proposal to the committee on domestic affairs. According to the domestic speaker of the CDU, Erwin Marschewski, the provisions of the European Council convention were highly complicated and could not be adopted in ad hoc procedure. Moreover, German citizenship law must first be reformed before approving European regulations. Otto Schily (SPD) accused the governing parties of "anti-parliamentarian behavior", since they had rejected all attempts at reform by opposition parties.
dpa 10.12.97 // SZ 11.12.97 // FAZ 11.12.97

Commissioner for Foreigners: alien policies becoming a struggle for goods and funds

In her annual report Cornelia Schmalz-Jacobsen, the Federal Commissioner for Foreigners stated that the situation of aliens living in Germany is becoming more difficult. She said that policies regarding aliens are increasingly concerned with the struggle to obtain scarce goods such as work, affordable living quarters and state assistance. Schmalz-Jacobsen interpreted the declining number of foreign pupils in continuing education or vocational training as a clear warning signal. If adolescents were not able to accomplish their goals by virtue of their own efforts, she argued, a financial problem could easily become a social problem. The commissioner urged that steps be taken to combat racism. At the end of 1996 7.3 million foreigners lived in Germany. This was 100,000 more than at the end of 1995. Approximately one fourth of the foreigners come from Turkey, 10.2% from former Yugoslavia and another 8.2% from Italy. Around 30% of the foreigners have been living in Germany for at least 20 years and 40% for over 15 years.
dpa 10.12.97 // Welt 11.12.97 // FAZ 11.12.97

Organizations criticize German policies on aliens

The German Labor Union Association, the Workers" Welfare agency, Caritas (the Catholic welfare agency) and the Diakonisches Werk (the Evangelical welfare agency), the German Employees Union, the German Athletic Association, Pro Asylum and the Jewish Central Committee criticized the alien policies of the German government in a joint declaration. The visa requirements introduced at the beginning of 1997 for foreign children living in Germany were inhibiting the development of positive attitudes towards foreigners. Furthermore, the groups criticized the general ban on working for newly arrived refugees and asylum-seekers as well as the undifferentiated public discussion of alien criminality.
FR 13.12.97 // taz 13.12.97

Federal Border Police urges taxi drivers to report illegal immigrants

The Federal Border Police (BGS) is trying to win the support of taxi-drivers in the pursuit of illegal immigrants. In a leaflet the BGS urged taxi drivers "not to give lifts to individuals who had obviously entered the country illegaly." If taxi drivers are found with illegal immigrants in traffic inspections, they face investigations, fines, imprisonment and loss of their driving and work licences. The BGS explained its actions referring to an addition in 1994 to alien law which stipulates that aiding and abetting illegal entry and residence is to be penalized. Several taxi drivers had already been convicted to imprisonment without probation for smuggling immigrants in the tri-country area Germany, the Czech Republic and Poland. Taxi cooperatives have defended themselves against such accusations, pointing out that passengers are transported only in Germany. The cooperatives criticize moreover that the BGS guidelines would result in taxis not being allowed to provide transportation to foreigners in border areas.
taz 16.12.97 // SZ 17.12.97 // FR 20.12.97 // SZ 1.1.1998

Agreement with Austria on readmitting illegal immigrants

The interior ministers of Germany and Austria, Kanther and Schlögl, have signed an agreement according to which either country would readmit persons from safe third countries who had illegally entered the other"s country via their own territory. The ministers also agreed on closer cooperation between police authorities and customs administrators in the border areas for the purpose of combatting organized criminality.
FAZ 17.12.97

Brandenburg: Jewish immigrants no longer required to settle in designated areas

According to Herwig Schirmer, the deputy minister (Staatsekretär)of welfare, the state government of Brandenburg and the district authorities have agreed that Jewish immigrants will no longer be assigned to places of residence according to a ratio of distribution, but rather according to their wishes if possible. The Brandenburg state government apparently developed this policy in response to the incidents in the community of Gollwitz which had refused to accept a sizeable contingent of Jewish immigrants from the former Soviet Union.
SZ 18.12.97

Kohl and Waigel: harsher measures against illegal immigration

At a strategy meeting of the chairmen of the CDU and CSU, Helmut Kohl and Theo Waigel agreed on new measures against unauthorized immigration of foreigners. Anyone residing in Germany without a permit will receive in the future only food and other goods, but no money whatsoever.
NZ 20.12.97

One fourth of Bosnian refugees returned home

According to an Emnid-poll of the state interior ministries, around 84,000 of the some 340,000 refugees from Bosnia-Herzegovina who have arrived in Germany since 1992 have returned to their native country. Up to now, 988 refugees have been deported. According to Dietmar Schlee, the Federal Government Commissioner for Returning Refugees and Reconstruction, 100,000 refugees have returned to Bosnia-Herzegovina. Of the 250,000 Bosnian refugees still living in Germany, 180,000 come from the Republika Srpska in Serbian-held Bosnia-Herzegovina. The situation there is "exceptionally miserable" so that the return of the refugees to this area "must be linked to a reconstruction program."
Welt 17.12.97 // SZ 17.12.97 // FR 18.12.97 // SZ 29.12.97

BKA: 173 offences against foreigners in October

The Federal Bureau of Criminality (BKA) registered 173 xenophobic offences in October. This was 35 more offences than in September and 56 more than in October 1996. Among the offences were four cases of arson, 30 assaults on persons as well as 139 "other offences" such as material damage, threats and insults.
dpa 22.12.97

Blüm: 13,000 eastern Europeans employed at German construction sites

According to Labor Minister Norbert Blüm,13,000 eastern Europeans are employed at German construction sites; this is 70,000 fewer than in 1992. In the financial year 1997 (until the end of October) 54,000 contract workers were employed. Blüm feels that the eastern Europeans constitute only a limited strain on the labor market where at least 200,000 German construction workers are unemployed. In his opinion a work-permit ban could hardly improve the employment situation since the eastern Europeans would then be replaced by cheap labor from the EU.
SZ 23.12.97

Foreign families have lower incomes than German families

Calculations of the Federal Institute for Population Research indicate that foreign families have distinctly lower incomes than German families. In 1995 German families had average net household incomes of 4,443 marks per month. In cases where both parents are foreigners, the income is 1,215 marks less. If the husband is German the family has an income of 3,940 marks, and if he is foreign, an income of 3,218 marks. Only ten percent of German couples with children belong to the income categories under 2.500 marks per month. A fourth of all foreign families, on the other hand, belong to these groups.
FR 29.12.97 // SZ 29.12.97

Aussiedler statistics

According to federal-government data 134,419 Aussiedler (ethnic German immigrants) came to Germany in 1997. This is 43,332 fewer than in the previous year. A total of 147,577 persons had applied for admission to Germany in 1997. One third of the applicants from Russia or Kazakhstan failed the obligatory German test. The Federal Government Aussiedler Commissioner, Horst Waffenschmidt, expects a further decline in the number of ethnic German immigrants in 1998. He attributes this decline to German government loans which have enabled Russian Germans on the Volga and in St.Petersburg to find living quarters and work.
SZ 3.1.1998

Asylum statistics

According to the federal interior ministry, 104,353 persons applied for asylum in Germany in 1997. In 1996 asylum seekers coming to Germany numbered 116,367. In comparison to 1995 the number of applicants for asylum in 1997 declined by nine percent. The main countries of origin in 1997 were Turkey and former Yugoslavia with more than 16% each of the applications. The acceptance rate in 1997 dropped to 4.9%; in 1996 it was 7.4%. According to Interior Minister Manfred Kanther, the low rate of acceptance illustrates that abusers of asylum rights make up 90% of all applicants.
FR 2.1.1998 // dpa 2.1.1998 // SZ 3.1.1998 // SZ 14.1.1998

December 1997

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