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efms Migration Report

December 1998

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Foreign experts criticize German immigration policy

The "Transatlantic Learning Association", which is a union of international migration specialists, voices criticism of the immigration policy of the government coalition in Bonn. As the EU presidency approaches Bonn, in the view of the association, is occupied with articulating general goals such as "European harmonization", instead of making the needed specific proposals. Political leaders were not taking advantage of the opportunity to forge common EU policies, as given by the Amsterdam Treaty. On the other hand, the specialists take a positive view of the planned reform of citizenship law because it will lead to greater convergence in the nationality laws of EU countries. On the basis of his own experience with dual citizenship, French specialist Patrick Weil warns that the significance of this measure should not be overestimated, since a second citizenship had proved, in his view, to be rather irrelevant to the relationship between the state and citizens.
FAZ 4.12.98

Catholic Bishops Conference defends church asylum

In a "pastoral letter" to Catholic Christians, church asylum is described as an "act of emergency assistance for refugees". In the bishops" view, a parish which takes in persons threatened with deportation gives them the assistance necessary to protect their lives and appeals at the same time to the state to ensure fairer treatment of refugees. The bishops stress that granting church asylum is a personal matter of conscience for each Christian. The Archbishop of Fulda, Johannes Dyba, on the contrary, disagrees with the views expressed in the letter, saying that church asylum cannot be found either in the Catholic Church or in the German system of justice .
FAZ 4.12.98 // taz 4.12.98 // SZ 5.12.98

Interior Minister Schily intends to keep airport proceedings

In a fact-finding visit to the transit area of the Frankfurt Rhein-Main-Airport, the Federal Interior Minister, Otto Schily (SPD) reaffirmed the need for the so-called airport proceedings which stipulate a time-limit of 19 days for deciding on whether or not an asylum-seeker will be admitted to the asylum procedure. The minister points out that this procedure has been approved by the Federal Constitutional Court. Schily wants to appoint a task-force composed of representatives of agencies and welfare organizations in order to ascertain if the implementation of the "airport proceedings" is in keeping with the principle of commensurateness. While Schily would like to improve accomodations, in particular those for families with children and unaccompanied minors, he does not intend to make any concessions regarding security issues. The minister expressly defends the Federal Border Police (BGS), saying the officials carry out their work "in a sensitive and reasonable way".
FAZ 12.12.98 // NZ 12.12.98 // Welt 12.12.98

UNHCR criticizes deportation to Togo

Twenty-six rejected asylum-seekers in the states of Bavaria, Nordrhein-Westfalen and Schleswig-Holstein are deported to West African Togo, their country of origin. This action triggers vehement criticism, among others by the Nürnberg Office of the UNHCR, as after the dubious presidential elections of Juni 1998 Togo is still considered an undemocratic state. The deportation of the Togolese leads to disputes among the coalition parties in Bonn. Several Green politicians blame Interior Minister Otto Schily (SPD) for the fact that since he has been in office German deportation policies have become even more rigid.
FR 1.12.98 // FR 2.12.98 // FR 19.12.98

New initiatives in battle against illegal immigration

The Federal Interior Minister, Otto Schily (SPD) proposes that airlines should make copies of the passports of passengers from non-Schengen countries in order to reduce the number of asylum-seekers of undetermined nationality. According to Schily, some 50% of all asylum-seekers in the so-called "airport proceedings" are not in possession of papers, as they destroy them during their flights. August Hanning, the new president of the Federal Intelligence Agency (BND), takes the view that his organization should assume an active role in combatting international immigrant trafficking.
dpa 14.12.98 // SZ 14.12.98

Commissioner for Foreigners demands change in Foreign Office reports

Marieluise Beck, the new Federal Commissioner for Foreigners charges that the Foreign Office reports on countries do not correspond to the actual situations in the respective countries. In talks with Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, Beck demanded that future reports put greater emphasis on "the perspective of human rights". The reports are an essential component of decision-making in the asylum procedure.
FR 21.12.98

Frankfurt project draws foreigners and police together

The project "Police-Training for a Multicultural Society", begun in Frankfurt on Main at the beginning of 1998, has had overall positive results. The aim of the program is to enable police officers and foreigners to acquire a more realistic understanding of one another. Representatives from the foreigners organizations, who are to serve as multiplicators, along with 75 police officials were trained in workshops and participated jointly in a seminar at the Wiesbaden Police School. Both sides agree that a successful intercultural learning process had taken place. Some 200,000 foreigners from 181 nations live in Frankfurt.
FR 15.12.98

Protection of regional and minority languages in new European Charter

On January 1, 1999 the European "Charter for the Protection of Regional and Minority Languages" comes into effect in Germany. The charter obliges the federal and state governments to allow minority languages "to take on appropriate functions in public life". In Germany this concerns the Sorbian, Friesian, Danish and Low German languages as well as the languages of the Sinti and Roma. The significance of the charter varies among the minority groups. The Danes of Schleswig-Holstein are content with their situation, whereas the Sorbian minority in Brandenburg and Sachsen complain about the absence of their language in the media.
taz 31.12.98

Number of Aussiedler continues to drop in 1998

The total number of Aussiedler who came to Germany in 1998 was 103,080 which is a distinct reduction in comparison to the previous year when 134,419 ethnic Germans were registered. The Federal Commissioner for Aussiedler, Jochen Welt (SPD), stresses that there are approximately 100,000 more ethnic Germans who have received authorization to immigrate to Germany, but they are remaining in their native countries for the time being. Welt announced that language instruction will be increased in order to improve the integration of Aussiedler. Some 30% of those applying in their countries of origin for permission to enter Germany fail the required language test.
Welt 2.1.99

Asylum statistics in 1998: for the first time, less than 100,000 applications; forecast for 1999

In December 8,338 refugees applied for asylum. The Federal Interior Ministry reports that in 1998 a total of 98,644 persons applied for political asylum in Germany. This is the lowest number since the asylum law reform in 1993. The rate of recognition was 4%, while 3.7% were granted protection from deportation according to the Geneva Convention; some 14,000 persons were deported. More than a third of the asylum-seekers were from the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia; of these, approximately 85% were Kosovar Albanians. While the number of petitions from Irak dropped, there were more refugees from Vietnam. The president of the Federal Office for the Recognition of Refugees, Hans Georg Dusch, predicts that the asylum numbers in 1999 will remain stable. He does not expect a continuation of the heavily downward trend of recent years. Dusch is sceptical about the attempt to distribute the cost of admitting refugees more equally among the EU countries, saying "It will take years for anything to happen."
FR 28.12.98 // Welt 9.1.99

December 1998

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