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efms Migration Report

February 1999

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Modifications of citizenship-law reform announced

After the SPD lost its majority in Hessen, leading SPD politicians announce that they will modify Federal Interior Minister Otto Schily"s (SPD) draft on the reform of citizenship law. Party Chairman Oskar Lafontaine declares that due to the weakening of the party"s power in the Bundesrat, there had to be found a solution supported by a parliamentary majority. Federal Chancellor Gerhard Schröder is in favour of the so called "option model" of the FDP, which forces a decision for only one citizenship after a certain period. The Greens, on the other hand, have expressed doubts about the constitutionality of such a model, since according to German law citizenship cannot be revoked. The age limit, moreover, at which dual citizens would have to decide on one nationality should, according to the Greens, be as high as possible in order to avoid generation conflicts. On the other hand, it would often be unreasonable to ask the first generation of migrants, who are largely retired, to give up their old passports. The Federal Interior Minister emphasizes the importance of widespread public approval of the reform. In his opinion, multiple citizenship should be accepted "when it facilitates integration."
SZ 9.2.99 // FAZ 10.2.99 // SZ 10.2.99 // dpa 11.2.99 // Welt 12.2.99 // FAZ 12.2.99

Turkish Community demands improvements of the planned naturalization regulations

In the view of the Federal Chairman of the Turkish Community, Hakki Keskin, Schily"s draft contains two regulations which would deteriorate the present naturalization law. The plan to exclude recipients of welfare and employment benefits without continuing to ascertain whether or not they were "at fault" for requiring the funds, would affect one fourth of the Turkish population due to the current 23.2% unemployment rate among foreigners and the large numbers of retired people in need of welfare assistance. Keskin also rejects the planned increase in naturalization fees.
FR 3.2.99

Bundesrat rejects Bayern"s initiative to limit immigration

The Länder governed by the SPD reject a draft proposal submitted to the Bundesrat by the government of Bayern which would limit immigration. Bayern had justified the initiative, citing the high proportion of foreigners in the population and the outstanding high rate of permanent unemployment among foreigners. Furthermore, Bayern is concerned about large numbers of foreign children aggravating integration problems in schools. Federal Interior Minister Otto Schily (SPD) intends to work towards harmonizing European policies on immigration and asylum during Germany"s term as President of the EU Council. Schily feels that in view of the economic situation Germany does not need additional immigration. For this reason, an immigration law would only arouse false hopes.
SZ 6.2.99

Administrative court regards Kosovar Albanians as a non-persecuted group

The Administrative Court of Hessen establishes the principle that Kosovar Albanians returning to Yugoslavia are not subjected to state persecution. In elaboration, the court states that since there is no governmental program to destroy or drive away this ethnic group, not every Kosovar Albanian need fear that he will become a victim of an attack by the state. According to the court, the situation in Kosovo has "become fairly stable" since autumn 1998.
FR 6.2.99

Center for Studies on Turkey demands government control of Islamic instruction

In the view of the Center for Studies on Turkey in Essen, "instruction in the Islamic faith" should be introduced as a regular subject in German schools and be solely under the jurisdiction of German authorities. In a discussion paper the Center declares that this is the only way to avoid the influence of "dubious Islamic institutions". A committee composed of representatives of the Länder should determine the syllabuses.
SZ 5.2.99

Lawyers Association demands liberal handling of unresolved asylum applications

The German Lawyers Association calls for a backlog regulation to settle all unresolved asylum applications submitted before January 1,1994. This would end the long uncertainty of the applicants who have had to wait without security or rights. The lawyers association argues that the authorities are not able to clear the backlog which consists of 200,000 unresolved asylum cases. The lawyers suggest that residence permits should be given for one year and extension should depend on whether or not the persons concerned can prove regular employment.
dpa 11.2.99

Proportion of migrants in shelters for women on the rise

German shelters for women (Frauenhäuser) which provide refuge to women seeking help, are increasingly being sought out by women migrants. In a project to coordinate these shelters throughout Germany, it was found that in large cities like Berlin, Hamburg or Munich, the proportion of foreigners in the shelters was 50-80%. The situation of these women in violent marital conflicts is quite often especially difficult due to insecure legal status, insufficient language skills and different mentalities. Civil-war refugees and asylum-seekers have often had traumatic experiences with violence and are afraid of returning to their homelands. Another conclusion of the study is that marriage migrants, such as the Filipinas, are often maltreated by their husbands and feel completely uprooted.
dpa 22.2.99

BAFl directs EU project to modernize asylum system in middle and eastern Europe

In a project scheduled for two years, the EU in cooperation with the UNHCR plans to assist a total of ten countries in central and eastern Europe wishing to join the EU in their efforts to establish an asylum procedure corresponding to Western European standards. The Federal Office for the Recognition of Foreign Refugees (BAFl) in Nuremberg is managing the project for which the sum of 3 million euros (5.7 million DM) has been allotted. Specialists from the EU and the UNHCR will be providing infomation about fair asylum procedures and aspects of attending to the needs of asylum seekers. The EU views the harmonization of asylum law standards in eastern and middle Europe as a prerequisite for joining the EU. According to Federal Office President Hans Georg Dusch, the project, which has already commenced, will "expand the belt of safe third countries to the East".
dpa 22.2.99 // NZ 23.2.99

Demands for easier deportation of violent Kurds

Kurdish demonstrators in many German cities react with a wave of violence to the arrest of PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan by the Turkish authorities. The escalation of violence culminates in the death of three demonstrators shot by Isareli security guards as the Kurds stormed the Israeli general consulate in Berlin. While the federal government concedes that the security authorities were not prepared for the massive violence of the Kurds, government officials do not accept foreign conflicts being held on German streets. The government announces harsh measures against violations of the law and the deportation of Kurdish offenders. Interior Minister Schily wants to explore whether an agreement with Turkey can ensure that Kurds deported to Turkey will not face either torture or the death penalty. The CDU/CSU calls for an easier expulsion of foreign offenders. The Bavarian Interior Minister Beckstein declares that the stiffer terms formulated in July 1997 as a result of Kurdish riots should be supplemented by agreements with Turkey according to international law.
FAZ 17.2.99 // dpa 18.2.99 // FAZ 18.2.99 // FAZ 19.2.99 // FAZ 24.2.99

BGS prevents more illegal border crossings in 1998

The Federal Border Police (BGS) prevented more illegal border crossings in 1998 than in the previous year. Officers were able to arrest 3,162 immigrant traffickers, mainly Czechs, Yugoslavians and and Germans, as they attempted to bring persons illegally into the country. In 1997 a total of 2,023 immigrant traffickers had been arrested. The BGS prevented the entries of a total of 40,201 persons, 5,000 more than in 1997. Yugoslavians formed the largest group of traffickers, followed by Romanians, Afghans and Irakis. Most of the illegal entries were attempted at the border to the Czech Republic, where 19,203 persons were arrested.
BMI Press Announcement 25.2.99 // dpa 25.2.99

Aussiedler statistics

The immigration of Aussiedler (ethnic German immigrants) continued to decline in February when 5,563 persons were registered (previous month: 9,224; February 1998: 6,092). Nearly all came from CIS states. The Federal Commissioner for Aussiedler, Jochen Welt, announces that the government intends to improve the integration of ethnic German immigrants especially through language instruction addressed to the specific needs of the target group. In addition, personal networks are to carry out integration projects. On a social level, says Welt, private initiatives and volunteers will be supported.
BMI Press Announcement 4.3.99

Asylum statistics

In February 1999 there were 7,333 applications for political asylum, a decline of 10.8% in comparison with the previous month and an increase of 22% in comparison with February 1998. The main country of origin continues to be the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, followed by Turkey and Irak. The rate of recognition was 2.9%.
BMI Press Announcement 5.3.99

February 1999

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