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efms Migration Report

February 2007

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EU: Interior Ministers to strengthen Frontex

On the occasion of a conference of the EU Council of the Interior Ministers held in Brussels on 15 February 2007, all participants confirmed that they wanted to better equip the border control agency Frontex in order to combat illegal immigration. The new Regulation to be got under way within the framework of the German EU presidency comprises, inter alia, the establishment of "rapid border intervention teams". The team will comprise experts from the EU Member States and can be put at the disposal of Member States by Frontext, which are particularly affected by illegal migration. Moreover, official border guards of the team will to be furnished for the first time with executive powers. In addition, the Regulation provides for a centralised register of technical equipment to pool border police equipment such as helicopters, patrol boats and other equipment. By exchanging the equipment available through the centralised register, the EU Member States are to be allowed to mutually and temporarily support each other in protecting the external borders. Further topics discussed at the meeting comprised the issue of development aid and the controlled immigration of workers.
Der Press release of BMI of 15.02.07

EU Commission: Plans for a "Blue Card" for skilled workers

The Commission of the European Union (EU) intends to present by autumn proposals for a directive regulating the admission of skilled workers to Europe. According to the Commission, it is planned to introduce a European "Blue Card" similar to the American "Green Card". This way, it wants to correct the image of the EU on the global labour markets against the background that, for the time being, it would attract above all unskilled workers while highly skilled physicians and engineers, e.g. from Africa, would almost exclusively go to the US or Canada.
Der Standard online 13.02.07

Switzerland: Immigration of German workers has further increased

According to the Swiss Federal Office for Statistics (BFS), the number of German workers in Switzerland has further increased in 2006: all in all, the number rose from 93,000 persons (2005) to 103,000 persons (2006), i.e. by 10.6 per cent. Many of the German labour migrants would be highly skilled and often occupied leading positions. However, there would be no considerable competition between Swiss and German nationals on the labour market, according to labour market experts. The attitude of the Swiss population towards the large number of German immigrants sometime seems to be characterised by the fear of foreign infiltration and refusal. According to media reports, there had already been cases of workplace bullying towards Germans.
Press release of BFS of 20.02.07 // Der Bund 21.02.07 // NN 28.02.07

Spain and Germany meet to discuss EU immigration policy

From 5 to 6 February 2007, the German-Spanish Forum of the Würth Foundation was held for the forth time in Berlin. This time, the future immigration policy of the EU was on its focus. Federal Interior Minister Schäuble (CDU) and the Spanish minister for labour, Jesús Caldera, expressed themselves in favour of concerted actions of the EU Member States in the area of integration policy. However, two controversial positions also came to light: While Caldera called for a common immigration policy on EU level, Schäuble insisted on an undisputed right of the individual national states to take their own decisions.
Welt am Sonntag 11.02.07 //

Switzerland cooperates with the EU in repatriating illegal refugees

Since September 2006, the pilot project "Return" of the European Union (EU) is running. Within its framework, EU Member States such as Germany, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands charter aircraft to return illegal refugees in coordinated actions to their countries of origin. Also Switzerland is participating in the joint forced deportations in order to achieve cuts in the federal budget. Last year, Switzerland organised 48 own deportation flights which amounted on average to costs equalling to 60,580 euros.
20 Minuten 21.02.07 //

Right to remain: Union-lead federal states opposed to compromise of Federal Government

The compromise of the governing coalition on the planned legal provisions regulating the right to remain of foreigners who have been tolerated over many years is strongly opposed by Union party-lead federal states. The Union party and SPD had agreed to initially grant tolerated refugees a right to remain, on the basis of which they would be given time until September 2009 to find employment. The Federal Government justified the planned extension of the deadline by pointing to the difficult situation on the labour market. Particularly the federal states of Lower Saxony, North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) and Bavaria have refused the compromise. They insist on the provision agreed about at the conference of the Interior Ministers (IMK) held in September, according to which tolerated persons would have been required to find an employment by September 2007 already in order to be granted subsequently a right of residence. The Interior Minister of Lower Saxony, Uwe Schünemann (CDU), argued that from his point of view the compromise would cause an "immigration" into the social insurance systems. It would be clear that there would be no majority for such a provision on federal level. The expert for interior policy affairs of the SPD, Dieter Wiefelspütz, said that he took the excitement of the Union representatives calmly, arguing that the provisions of the act were balanced and reasonable.
FR 22.02.07 // taz 23.02.07 // taz 26.02.07 // NN 26.02.07

Upper house of German parliament demands improvement of integration courses

In its decision of 16 February 2007, the upper house of the German parliament, the Bundesrat, requested the Federal Government to improve the following points of the integration courses for foreigners and late German repatriates (Spätaussiedler): Firstly, the number of course hours for certain target groups should be increased from currently 630 to 930 to comprise 900 hours of language training and 30 hours of social orientation lessons. Moreover, the quality of the courses needed to be improved and to be oriented more towards specific needs to increase the success quota and thus to improve integration opportunities.
Press release of Bundesrat of 16.02.07

Initiative of the Bundesrat: No naturalisation in case of doubtful attitude towards basic legal principles

As part of an initiative of the conference of the Interior Ministers (IMK), Bavaria - together with six other federal states - wants to introduce a draft bill to the upper house of the German parliament, the Bundesrat, in order to achieve uniform standards for naturalisations in Germany. Accordingly, foreigners should not be granted a German passport, if upon an interview the naturalisation authority has justified doubts about the applicants" convictions being in line with basic legal principles. Possible reasons for justified doubts could be the justification of so-called honour killings or the praising of an Islamist terror attack.
Der Spiegel 19.02.07

German ZDF TV channel triggers off debate by taking into consideration a "Wort zum Freitag" (Sacred Word on Friday)

The editor in chief of the German TV channel ZDF, Nikolaus Bender, triggered off a wide-ranging debate on the presence of religious communities in the media by announcing plans to introduce an Islamic "Sacred Word on Friday". Brender"s idea was to include a small area on the website of the ZDF as of May 2007 to be used as an "space of discussion on Islam", including the possibility of presenting the contents of the site in the TV at a later time also being taken into consideration. In reply, the vice-president of the Central Council of Jews, Salomon Korn, demanded the same rights for all and called for a "Sacred Word on Sabbath". The Muslim community expected to chose their speakers and the issues to be addressed by themselves. Ayyub Axel Köhler, chairman of the Central Council of Muslims, was of the opinion that it would be just fair to give the 3.2 million Muslims in Germany the same rights as to the Christian community. Politicians of the CDU and the chairman of the supervisory council of the ZDF, Ruprecht Polenz, said they would have legal reservations, arguing that due to the fact that Muslims were not be organised like the churches, no public corporation would exist to act for the ZDF as the sole contact to represent all Muslims living in Germany. As a proposal to solve the discussion, the ZDF now changed the concept and turned the "Sacred Word on Friday" into a "Forum on Friday", which will be regulated and overseen by the editorial team of the TV channel in charge of the churches. The channel"s director, Markus Schächter, said that the ZDF wanted to contract personalities that are proposed by the Muslim associations to be subsequently chosen by the channel. Both Köhler and Korn agreed to the changed concept. The ZDF now wants to talk with the Central Council of Jews about a similar internet platform for the Jewish community.
FAZ 24.02.07 // Der Spiegel 26.02.07

Berlin: New immigration service for highly-skilled and companies

In cooperation with the foreigners" authority, the Berlin Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IHK) has launched a new "Business Immigration Service" (BIS), a new service to facilitate the immigration of highly-skilled workers and companies. In future, such persons willing to immigrate to Germany will have the possibility to obtain from the service office, which is open every day, all kind of information and forms that are needed to apply for residence and work permits. The Labour Agencies of Berlin will support this service by deciding about the granting of work permits in a simplified procedure in order to speed up the application procedure. Claudia Langeheine, head of the Foreigners" Authority of Berlin, estimates that about 600 to 1,000 persons could make use of the service per year. Bettina Schoenau, in charge of managing the BIS at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said she wanted to offer persons of the target group a better environment than the Foreigners" Authority arguing that highly-skilled workers and entrepreneurs would not like to spend their time waiting long times for being served.
taz online 17.02.07 //

North Rhine-Westphalia: Introduction of German language tests for four-year-old kids

Within the framework of the new Education Act, North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) introduces as the first federal state a compulsory German language test for all four-year-old kids in order to reveal and deal with language deficits already before the children"s school enrolment. In March 2007, about 180,000 children will take the first language tests. The Ministry for Education and Schools in Düsseldorf expects that about 20 to 25 per cent of the children need assistance to improve their language skills by attending pre-school classes that will be compulsory as well. The Family and Integration Minister of NRW, Armin Laschet (CDU), said that with the introduction of language tests one core point of the integration policy would be implemented and added that language deficits could be observed both among children from immigrant families and German children alike. Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) said she wished that such tests were made throughout Germany. Also the "Deutsch Plus" language tests taken in Berlin have revealed the need to offer children early language support services. This test was taken in 2006 by a total of 25,000 four-year-old children. The findings were as follows: one forth of the four-year-old children needs language support assistance before school enrolment, whereas the proportion among migrant children amounts to up to 67 per cent.
SZ 13.02.07 // taz online 13.02.07 // FAZ 13.02.07 // taz 19.02.07

Hesse: Project for provision of information to Muslims

With the support of the local government of Hesse, it is planned to implement in the federal state a project to provide Muslims with information on the German education and health service systems, which would be the first of its kind in Germany. Courses held in three Hessian cities are to offer prayer leaders information particularly on how the German health service system works and which kind of child care offers is available. Questions of general education such as consciously watching TV and using computers, but also the issue of domestic violence are to be addressed. The prayer leaders can pass on their acquired knowledge to persons of their Mosque communities who can participate in social life to only a limited extent due to traditions or cultural reasons. Yasar Bilgin, chairman of the institution in charge of the project, the Turkish-German Health Foundation, said that Mosques would be a good place to disseminate knowledge. Among the several thousands of persons who went to the Mosques in Hesse every day there would be also those who have little contact to the German host society. The Turkish Mosque association Ditib is a partner of the project.
FR 08.02.07

Neukölln district of Berlin: Rütli school seems to be on good course

With their so-called "urgent reminder letter", the teachers of the Rütli school in Berlin district of Neukölln draw the nation"s attention to the difficult situation at the school one year ago. Since then, numerous measures have been implemented which contributed to a new atmosphere and an unusual team spirit at the school: a new school director, three social education workers, a team of psychologists, a new school magazine and miscellaneous leisure time activities for the pupils. The municipal councillor for general education affairs, Volker Schimmang (SPD), said in addition that recently it would be possible that the school itself can chose new teachers instead of having to employ inadequate personnel from waiting lists, as it used to be in the past. Moreover, there would be a much stricter treatment and dealing with truants and violent pupils and each incident would be handled with the police being involved. Schimmang said that still there could not be the talk of a paradise but the school has regained a kind of normal teaching routine.
Die Welt 28.02.07

Frankfurt/Main: Mayor Roth proposes voting right for foreigners on municipal level

The proposal of the Lord Mayor of Frankfurt, Claudia Roth (CDU), to introduce a voting right for all foreigners on municipal level has received positive reactions. Claude Diallo, the integration officer of the city of Frankfurt, praised the initiative of Roth saying that it would be a positive signal to foreigners and the voting right on municipal level would be the most important form of political participation. The Green Party and the Social Democrats praised the initiative as well. The spokesman for interior affairs of the Green Party in the local parliament in Wiesbaden said that Roth now needed to make use of her influence within the CDU and should provide for the legal foundations to introduce voting rights on municipal level. The head of the Frankfurt chapter of the CDU, Udo Corts, distanced himself from the proposal and said that at the moment there would be no discussion about voting rights for foreigners within his party. A spokesman of the convention of municipal authorities announced that he would soon deal with the issue against the background that similar initiatives had been taken by other municipalities too.
FR 06.02.07

Sendlingen district of Munich: Court order delays construction of Mosque

In the dispute about the construction of a Mosque in the Munich district of Sendlingen, the Administrative Court of Munich decided on 12 February 2007 in favour of the Free State of Bavaria. The Türkisch-islamische Kulturzentrum e.V. (Turkish-Islamic cultural centre) had lodged an appeal against a notice of objection of the local government of Upper Bavaria by which the previously issued preliminary building permit of the city of Munich had been revoked. The Court decided that at first a development plan would be required. This delays the construction of the Mosque for an indefinite period. Neighbours of the construction site and the Munich chapter of the CSU had fought against the construction of the Mosque and turned to the local government of Upper Bavaria. In contrast, the Christian churches in the Sendlingen district and the red-green municipal government have supported the plans. Önder Yildiz, chairman of the Turkish-Islamic Mosque association Ditim, said that he would not understand the decision and argued that, being citizens of the city of Munich, they would also have the right to practice their religion in a place of worship. The presiding judge, Marion Pauli-Gerz, said that the issue would not be about a debate on general political principles because on principles the construction of a place of worship would be possible.
Press release of the Administrative Court of Munich of 13.01.07 // SZ 13.02.07 // SZ 19.02.07 // Welt am Sonntag 25.02.07

Right-wing extremism: Establishment of an NPD training centre in Wunsiedel frustrated

The city of Wunsiedel in Upper Franconia has frustrated plans to set-up a convention centre of the right-wing NPD party by buying a restaurant building. It made use of its right of first refusal and interfered that way the contact between the owner of the property and the Hamburg-based neo-Nazi and lawyer Jürgen Rieger, who had already made an offer to buy. According to reports, Rieger had planned to set-up there an electoral campaign centre of the NPD party along with a training centre as well as a Rudolf Heß memorial.
FR 22.02.07

Federal Social Court: Tolerated refugees entitled to social welfare benefits

The Federal Social Court (BSG) in Kassel decided on 8 February 2007 that refugees who are tolerated in Germany would be entitled to the full amount of welfare payments in case of a longer stay, if there are important reasons for them to stay in Germany. One possible reason would be particularly justifiable concerns about returning to the home country. The argument that refugees could voluntarily leave the country would not be sufficient to justify the payment of the so-called basic set of welfare payments only.
Press release of the BSG of 08.02.07 // FR 09.02.07

Asylum statistics

In February 2007, a total of 1,299 persons has submitted a petition for political asylum in Germany. The figure constitutes a decrease of 21.9 per cent (-364 persons) compared to January 2007. Compared to February 2006, the number of asylum seekers has declined by 27 per cent (-480 persons). The main countries of origin in February were Serbia (155), Turkey (130), Iraq (109), Vietnam (73) followed by Lebanon (63). In February, the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees decided on 2,353 asylum applications. Sixteen persons (0.7 per cent) were recognised as being entitled to political asylum. Another 147 persons (6.3 per cent) were granted protection against deportation according to § 60, paragraph 1 of the Residence Act. The petitions of 1,296 persons (55.1 per cent) have been rejected. The cases of a further 827 persons (35.1 per cent) have been closed for other reasons (e.g. due to suspensions of asylum procedures because persons have withdrawn their applications).
Press release of BMI of 21.03.07

February 2007

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