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efms Migration Report


February 2008

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UN: First international conference on fight against human trafficking

The first international conference on the topic of combating human trafficking took place in Vienna from 13 until 15 February 2008 under the auspices of the United Nations (UN). The event was attended by around 1,200 participants from 100 countries. The conference was aimed at drawing the public"s attention worldwide on this form of organised crime, according to the head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Antonio Maria Costa. According to estimates of the UN, around 2.5 million persons are in the power of human traffickers, of which about 80 per cent are women and children. The profits generated with crimes related to human trafficking such as forced prostitution or the forced recruitment of under-age soldiers amounted to around 22 billion euros per year. A spokesman of the UN department against human trafficking said that one of the major problems would be that detained offenders would rarely be convicted. Even in Germany, human trafficking would still be a highly profitable business with low risks. This situation needed to be brought to an end, said the UN"s spokesman.
BZ 14.02.08

EU Commission wants complete control by setting-up "virtual borders"

The EU Commissioner for Justice, Franco Frattini, has presented to the EU Member States and the EU Parliament a package of measures to tighten the border controls by using leading-edge technology. His proposal includes three projects: Firstly the set-up of a so-called "Entry-Exit-System" to limit illegal immigration. The system is to register at the border crossing-points travel data and biometric features of both all third-country nationals entering the EU and all leaving the community. This is particularly aimed at limiting the so-called overstaying of persons. According to estimates, about 40 - 50 per cent of the illegal immigration into the EU is due to persons entering the EU initially in a legal way, but who, however, do not leave the community upon expiry of their residence permits. The system would automatically create a notification in case such "overstayer" would not leave the community or if he or she left late. According to the plans of Frattini, the system is to be taken into operation by 2015. Secondly, it is planned to introduce a so-called "electronic travel permit", which is to become compulsory also for persons who have not been obliged to apply for visas so far. Thirdly, plans are under way for a "European Control System" for which also satellites and unmanned aircraft are to be used in addition to the controls at the borders. Renate Künast, chairwomen of the Green party in the Federal Parliament, firmly rejected the proposals of Frattini, saying that instead of shielding the EU by the employment of huge technical efforts, the community rather needed much more urgently an immigration policy that allows legal immigration. The former Federal Minister of Justice, Sabine Leutheuser-Schnarrenberger (FDP party) said it seemed to her like a horror scenario to imagine that a central European database would be fed with all and any data of third-country nationals. She demanded that the Federal Government clearly rejected the Commission"s decision.
SZ 12.02.08 // FAZ 13.02.08 // FR 14.02.08 // taz 14.02.08

Prime Minister Erdogan triggers off controversial reactions with the appearances during his visit to Germany

With his speech before about 16,000 visitors of mostly Turkish origin on 10 February 2008 at the Köln Arena convention center on the occasion of his visit to Germany, the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has provoked anew the debate on the integration of the about 2 million Turkish nationals living in Germany. His postulate, for instance, that assimilation would be a crime against humanity (…no one could expect the Turks to assimilate themselves) met with sharp criticism from politics and the general public. Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) reacted with annoyance and pointed to the fact that she was also the Chancellor of all Turkish citizens living in Germany. Günther Beckstein (CSU), the Minister-President of Bavaria, reproached Erdogan for wanting to tell his countrymen living in Germany with these words that they should not forget being Turks and that they should not integrate into the German society with all their hearts. Federal Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU) found calming words when he stated that in Erdogan"s statement this German term in its actual sense would have no meaning unless the visitor had referred to forced assimilation. However, there could not be the talk of such forced assimilation and therefore, the Germans did not need to feel to be addressed. Moreover and in the context of the tense situation caused by the fire in a residential building on 3 February 2008 in Ludwigshafen, which caused the death of five dwellers of Turkish origin, Erdogan had made an important contribution to de-escalate the circumstances. By expressing his confidence in the German authorities" work regarding the investigation of the fire"s causes, he had a positive influence on debate in the Turkish media which fuelled mistrust by claiming that the authorities would not carefully investigate the cause of the fire, said Schäuble. Also the Federal Foreign Office (AA) demanded that the positive aspects of the Prime Minister"s visit needed to be taken into consideration. When visiting the place of the fire disaster, Erdogan had found clear words in favour of a living together with solidarity, according to a spokeswoman of the Federal Foreign Office. There and also later on during his visit to Cologne, he called upon the Turks living in Germany to integrate and to learn the German language.
NZ 12.02.08 // Die Welt 12.02.08 // FAZ 13.02.08 // FAZ 14.02.08 // Focus online 14.02.08 // SZ 15.02.08 // Der Spiegel 18.02.08 // FAZ 24.02.08 // Die Welt 29.02.08

Asylum: Kosovars threatened by deportation

Following the declaration of independence on 17 February 2008, the about 50,000 refugees from the (former) Serbian province of Kosovo living in Germany and obliged to leave the country, have to prepare for the fact that they will be deported to their home country. In a repatriation agreement entered into with the provisional UN administration Unmik, the Kosovarian interim government around Prime Minister Hashim Thaci had already agreed to take back all refugees. In autumn of last year already, a practical resettlement strategy for the returnees had been elaborated. A communication of the Federal Ministry of the Interior informed that with the entry into force of the agreement, the quota employed so far would have become obsolete and only Roma refugee should be further protected against deportation. About 33,000 of the asylum applicants from Kosovo, whose majority was not granted asylum, belong to minorities such as Roma, Muslim Roma and Ashkali (from time immemorial an Albanian-speaking minority living in Kosovo whose origin is disputed). Bernd Mesovic of Pro Asyl expressed concerns that a mass deportation could again cause tensions between the six ethnic groups living in Kosovo. In his reply, Stefan Telöken of the UN Refugee Organisation UNHCR said that the situation of the minorities living there had already improved over the past years and added that there would be indeed grounds for optimism. There are no mass deportations to be expected anyway - first of all, decisions needed to be taken about applications on the right to remain, which were filed by many Kosovars. The Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) announced to suspend for the time being all pending asylum procedures until the international recognition of Kosovo as an independent state.
dpa 20.02.08 // SZ 22.02.08 // taz 23.02.08 // FR 23.02.08

New initiative of Christians and Muslims for a peaceful living together of Germans and migrants

A new initiative for peace founded by Christians and Muslims wants to promote the integration of immigrants into the German society. Besides the chairman of the Committee of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Parliament, Ruprecht Polenz, the group of initiators comprises the congress of municipal authorities in Germany (Deutscher Städtetag), the Turkish-Islamic Union of the Institute for Religion (DITIB), the Christian-Islamic Society as well as the Coordination Council for the Christian-Islamic Dialogue. On the occasion of the kick-off event, Polenz said that the initiative would be aimed against the unacceptable culture of mutual suspicions between Germans and Muslims. Rafet Öztürk, a representative of DITIB, stressed that the initiative wanted to keep a dialogue on the basis of the values of the German Basic Law. During its campaigning week with 40 events in German cities, the initiative wants to demonstrate how integration can work in daily life.
dpa 19.02.08

Low number of high-qualified workers immigrating causes again debate on more flexible laws

Against the backdrop of the low number of high-qualified persons from non-EU countries who immigrated in the last year to Germany, representatives from politics and the economy demanded again to loosen the statutory prerequisites for a settlement of such persons in the country. According to information of the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) in Nuremberg, the number of highly-qualified immigrants such as professors, scientists and high-level executives amounted in the past year to a total of 466 persons, only 10 more than in 2006. A survey of the Federal Ministry of Economics conducted last year found that particularly technological key industries such as mechanical engineering, metal working industries and the electrical industry were short of skilled personnel, which caused the German economy annual losses of around 20 billion euros. Therefore, the economy has demanded to lower the minimum salary requirement of 85,000 euros highly-qualified persons need to gain. The president of the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW), Klaus Zimmermann, interpreted the low immigration figures as a warning signal. Due to the good economic situation, a clearer rise in the immigration had actually been expected, according to Zimmermann. He reproached the Federal Government of having undertaken everything apt to preserve Germany"s image of a reserved country. Also the expert for economic affairs of the SPD party in the Federal Parliament, Rainer Wend, called for an easing the immigration law. The Federal Minister for Economics, Michael Glos (CSU) as well as SPD-led Federal Ministry of Labour so far have refused to further ease the immigration procedure. One of the major concerns is that the further education of unemployed persons could suffer due to immigration. On this topic Wend said it would be necessary that the people understood that the special qualifications which are needed by the industry could not be attained by some further education courses. Nonetheless, unemployed persons needed to be further qualified whenever possible.
SZ 26.02.08 // Heise online 26.02.08 // NN 27.02.08

Slight decrease of portion of foreigners in Germany in 2007

According to information of the German Statistical Office, the portion of persons in Germany not possessing a German passport has slightly fallen in 2007. Compared to the previous year, the number of persons on file in the Central Aliens" Register has fallen by 0.1 per cent (- 6,100 persons) to 6.74 million. On the one hand, this decrease could be attributed to the almost 279,000 persons who have left Germany or had died; on the other hand, it is due to the about 129,000 persons who were deleted from the register because of other reasons such as naturalisation. About 80 per cent of the 6.74 million foreigners in Germany are from Europe, 35 per cent of these from one of the 27 Member States of the European Union, and another 12 per cent from Asia, 4 per cent from Africa, 3 per cent from the Americas and 1 per cent had no or an unclear nationality.
Press release Federal Statistical Office 18.02.08

MIPEX: When it comes to integration, Germany reaches only a ranking in the midfield

In the current survey of the Migrant Integration Policy Index (MIPEX), Germany could only reach a position in the midfield as regards the integration of immigrants into the society. The index, which is compiled since 2004 every two years, a project of the British Council and the Migration Policy Group, investigates the legal framework conditions for the integration of third-country nationals (not the factual integration) who possess a permanent labour permit in one of 27 European countries and in Canada. Jan Niessen, head of the Migration Policy Group, said that the main objective of the index would consist of showing the countries the weak points in their integration policies. To this end, six subject areas related to integration policy are evaluated. According to the survey, Germany achieved in the overall international ranking position 14. It received its best ranking in the area of political freedom, where it was positioned on rank 7. Immigrants could organise themselves without restrictions in associations and parties, according to the survey. In the area of family reunification, the Federal Republic achieved position 12; as regards the protection against discrimination, it obtained place 17; regarding the access to the labour market, it achieved place 16; regarding the acquisition of the German citizenship, place 18 could be reached and it occupies position 19 as regards the opportunities to fulfil the requirements to be granted a long-term residence status. According to the report, a negative aspect standing out in Germany would be the fact that non-EU citizens could obtain long-term residence rights and an unrestricted access to the labour market not before five years. The requirements to be fulfilled for being granted the German citizenship had even become stricter since 2004; migrants could apply for it only after eight years of residence in the country. The first three ranks are occupied by Sweden, Spain and Portugal. Austria, Cyprus and Latvia are the backlights in the country ranking.
taz 07.02.08 // BZ 07.02.08

In future, officials may order paternity tests in case of doubt

Registrars may claim a test to determine the biological paternity in the future, if there are reasons to suspect that the acceptance of a paternity serves to obtain surreptitiously a right to remain. Following the revelation of cases in which foreign women awaiting their deportation paid German men money to make them declare being the fathers of their children, the Upper House of the German Parliament (Bundestag) approved on 15 February 2008 the amendment of the right to challenge paternities. Before, the civil servants had not the right to verify the paternity using a gene test, even if they had considerable doubts about it. The Interior Ministers of the federal states justified the amendment of the law with the argument that about 1,700 foreign mothers were granted a right to remain in 2004 because a German man recognised the paternity for their child only short time before their deportation. Critics of the new law, such as the Association of binational marriages and partnerships (IAF) criticised the decision arguing that in future also honest binational couples would become generally suspected only because of a small number of cases of misuse.
Beck online 15.02.08 // FR online 21.02.08

Bavaria: New law of assembly to make more difficult right-wing extremist demonstrations

The Bavarian state government plans to limit in future Nazi demonstrations by introducing its own right of assembly. According to the legislator"s intention a tightening of the law is to be introduced in several areas: a restriction of assemblies with a right-wing extremist background on and at particularly "sensitive days and places" as well as in cases of "unreasonable impairment of third-parties", a general ban of "assemblies with an aggressive appearance" and the strengthening of the rights of police officers. Representatives of the town of Gräfenberg, which is regularly affected by Nazi conventions, refused the draft bill. Michael Helmbrecht, spokesman of the "Bürgerforum Gräfenberg ist bunt" (Citizens" forum "Gräfenberg is multi-coloured") said the initiative did not want the basic rights of all citizens to be restricted only because radical minority groups misused these rights and added that they would be confident to be able as civil society to cope with the neo-Nazis. He is concerned that the law could also serve to restrict the activities of anti-fascists and the protests of the citizens" forum.
taz online 27.02.08

Federal Administrative Court: Deceived information in naturalisation procedures can be subject to limitations

With reference to the ruling of the Federal Constitutional Court of May 2006, the Federal Administrative Court of Leipzig has confirmed on 14 February 2008 that a naturalisation granted on the basis of deceived information cannot be revoked after many years have gone by. Several Germans with a migration background had taken legal actions against the federal state of Berlin, which wanted to withdraw their citizenships after eight to eleven years due to fact that they provided false information during their naturalisation procedures. They judges ruled that such a decision needed to be taken "early". However, they did not define any concrete time limit but asked the Federal Government to establish clear regulations.
SZ 15.02.08 // NN 15.02.08 // SZ 15.02.08

Asylum statistics

In February 2008, a total of 1,818 persons has submitted a petition for political asylum in Germany. The figure constitutes a decrease of 24.2 per cent (-579 persons) compared to January 2008. Compared to February 2007, the number of asylum applicants has increased by 39.9 per cent (+519 persons). The main countries of origin in February were Iraq (523), Serbia (160), Turkey (140) and Vietnam (104) followed by the Russian Federation (74). In this month, the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees decided on the asylum applications of 2,048 persons. A total of 15 persons (0.7 per cent) were recognised to be entitled to political asylum, whereas 647 persons (31.6 per cent) were granted protection against deportation according to § 60, paragraph 1, Residence Act. The applications of 719 persons (35.1 per cent) were rejected. The cases of a further 628 persons (30.7 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 26.03.08


February 2008

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