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efms Migration Report

July 2006

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Euro-African conference and EU interior ministers discuss illegal migration

On 10 and 11 July 2006, an Euro-African conference on the topic "migration and development" was held in Rabat (Morocco) with the attendance of 21 European and 24 African ministers as well as the vice President of the EU Commission, Franco Frattini, the Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). For the first time, countries of origin, transit countries and countries of destination jointly discussed migration issues and possible measures that could be taken. The conference adopted an action plan comprising 62 items, which include the promise of the African states to take measures against illegal immigration and human trafficking. In reply, the EU Member States promised to render the African countries more support to advance the economic development, to provide financial aid and expertise to handle refugee problems and to promote limited and controlled immigration policies. At a meeting of the Justice and Home Affairs Council of the European Union ten days later, on 24 July 2006, the Southern EU Member States again asked for more support to deal with African refugees. Several states, including Germany, promised to treat this matter with "European solidarity".
Press release of the Federal Foreign Office 08.08.06 // SZ 08.07.06 // FAZ 11.07.06 // Press review of the Spanish Embassy (online) 12.07.06 // European Parliament (online) 17.07.06 // tagesschau (online) 24.07.06 // FTD 25.07.06 // NZZ 25.07.06 // FR 25.07.06

First "Integration Summit" held in the Federal Chancellery

On 14 July 2006, Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) welcomed about 70 representatives of migrants" associations, trade unions, municipalities and academia as well as several prime ministers of federal states who participated in the "Integration Summit". Under the auspices of the Federal Chancellery, foreigners and Germans for the first time jointly presented ideas on how an integration policy comprising all political and societal areas could be shaped. The conference was aimed at establishing a new dialogue with migrants and at developing a "national integration plan". Six working groups were established on the following topics: "integration courses", "German language", "Education, vocational training and vocational training market", "situation of women and girls", "integration activities on the spot" and "integration activities to strengthen the common civic society". In the run up of the summit, the topics and the selection of the total of 86 participants had been subject to a lot of criticism. The organisations of Interkultureller Rat (intercultural council) and Pro Asyl had declared that integration would be converted into an obligation to be performed merely by migrants and refugees and that the issue of support to be rendered as well by the majority of the society would be given too little attention. The chairwoman of the Greens in the federal parliament, Renate Künast, criticised that in view of the "Conference on Islam" to be held in autumn, Islamic associations - in contrast to representatives of the Christian churches and the Jewish community - were not invited. After the summit, the Turkish Community in Germany expressed itself in favour of establishing a Federal Council for Integration and Migration, arguing that if the Federal Government took the topic of integration seriously, it needed to set up an institutionalised body for that purpose. Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU), however, said that she was "extraordinarily satisfied" with the outcomes achieved.
Press release of the Federal Commissioner for Migration, Refugees and Integration 12.07.06 // FR 12.07.06 // FAZ 12.07.06 // SZ 12.07.06 // FTD 13.07.06 // Die Welt 13.07.06 // FR 13.07.06 // Press release of Interkultureller Rat 13.07.06 // Press release of the Federal Government (online) 14.07.06 // Handelsblatt 14.07.06 // FAZ 14.07.06 // Die Welt 14.07.06 // Berliner Zeitung (online) 15.07.06 // Hamburger Abendblatt 15.07.06

Revision report of the Federal Ministry of the Interior on the Immigration Act

In its 250-pages "Evaluation report on the Immigration Act", the Federal Ministry of the Interior (BMI) comes to the conclusion that the Immigration Act, in force for one and a half year, has proved all in all successful. While not supporting claims for residence entitlements for foreigners who have been long-term residents, the report comprises several proposals on restrictions to be included in the foreigners" law. The plans of the Federal Ministry of the Interior, lead by the CDU party, have been sharply criticised by the coalition partner, SPD, the opposition parties, both Catholic and Protestant Churches as well as refugee and human rights organisations. "The Federal Government made use of the evaluation report to consolidate restrictive interpretations of the Immigration Act", said Amnesty International. Inter alia, it is planned to extend the "term during which a marriage needs to exist for setting up an independent residence right" from two to three years in order to prevent fictitious marriages. It is further discussed to "generally abolish the requirement to announce deportations in advance and to reduce the time limits for lodging appeals" in order to avoid the "going into underground" of persons facing a deportation. So far, foreigners whose toleration certificates have expired need to be informed four weeks in advance about a forthcoming deportation. Moreover, foreign spouses of German nationals receiving welfare payments should no longer be allowed to settle in Germany. In future it might be possible that young foreigners who claim to be under the age of 14 and who cannot prove their identity within the framework of the asylum procedure will have to prove their age themselves to be able to benefit from the special protection granted to such persons. So far, the burden of proof has been on the side of the authorities. It is furthermore taken into consideration to facilitate the deportation of foreigners receiving welfare payments under the so-called Hartz-IV-scheme. The federal chairwomen of the Green party, Claudia Roth, criticised such consideration would express just one thing: "Those who are no longer of use will be kicked out of the country." With these plans, Federal Interior Minister Schäuble would reveal the CDU"s true colours: "The crucifix hanging in Mr. Schäuble"s office would need to fall right off the wall".
FR 14.07.06 // Welt am Sonntag 16.07.06 // Welt am Sonntag 16.07.06 // FR 17.06.07 // Die Welt (online) 17.07.06 // Der Spiegel 17.07.06 // FR 21.07.06 // FR 26.07.06

Decreasing application numbers trigger off debate on obstacles to naturalisations

In the year 2005, the number of foreigners naturalised in Germany was as little as for the last time in 1998. According to the Federal Statistical Office, 117,240 persons were granted the German citizenship, which corresponds to a decline of about 10,000 (-7.6 per cent) compared to 2004. With the introduction of the amended Citizenship Act in 2000, the highest number of naturalisations number was reached with 187,700 foreigners being naturalised. Since then, figures have been on the fall. In the past year, the largest group of new German citizens was made up by Turkish nationals reaching 28 per cent (32,661 naturalisations). Persons from Serbia and Montenegro (8,824) as well as Poland (6,869) are ranking second and third in the country list of naturalisations. While the number of naturalisations of persons from Turkey (-27 per cent), Iran (-30 per cent) and Afghanistan (-23 per cent) experienced an exceptional decline compared to the previous year, the interest in the German citizenship shown by persons from Serbia and Montenegro (+150 per cent) and Kazakhstan (+106 per cent) was outstandingly high. According to the Federal Statistical Office, comparable changes of up to 100 per cent could be observed in the past as well. The federal chairman of the Turkish Community in Germany, Kenan Kolat, considered the dramatic decline to be alarming. An ever increasing number of persons would waive the opportunity to full participation in the political and social live due to the fact that many of those interested in being naturalised in Germany would be deterred by language tests and naturalisation courses imposed by the political authorities. Therefore, the SPD in the Federal parliament wants to increase the number of Germans by several millions: "I"d wish to see a campaign promoting naturalisations" said SPD MP, Sebastian Edathy.
taz 13.07.06 // Press release of the Federal Statistical Office 20.07.06 // Stuttgarter Zeitung (online) 20.07.06 // Spiegel (online) 20.07.06 // SZ 21.07.06 // FAZ 21.07.06

Central Council of Jews agrees to point scoring system for Jewish immigrants

The Central Council of Jews in Germany has agreed to the limitation of Jewish immigration to Germany by introducing a point scoring system. The key points of the reform had already been agreed about by the Federal Government and the federal states on the occasion of the Conference of the Interior Ministers held in June 2005. Based on this agreement, the Interior Ministers developed - in cooperation with representatives of Jewish organisations - a catalogue of criteria including an "integration forecast" at which candidates are required to achieve a minimum score of 50 out of a total of 105 scoring points. Applicants are given scoring points in the categories of age, knowledge of German, educational qualifications, professional experience and the expected participation of immigrants in a Jewish organisation. Victims of National Socialism persecution are exempted from these provisions.
FR 24.07.06 // SZ 25.07.06 // BZ 28.07.06

Joint Centre for Illegal Migration Analysis and Policy (GASIM)

On 17 July 2006, the "Joint Centre for Illegal Migration Analysis and Policy" (GASIM in its German abbreviation) was presented in Berlin. Expert competences contributed by the Federal Office of Criminal Investigation (BKA), the Federal Police, the Federal Intelligence Service (BND), the "Financial Control Department for illicit Work", the Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) as well as the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) are to be bundled to fight illegal migration in a holistic way. Organisations like Amnesty International, Pro Asyl and the Interkulturelle Rat (Intercultural Council) criticised that the Centre would criminalize the protection of refugees and migration itself. They added it would be well legitimate to fight against human traffickers, but it would be a scandal that the refugee area would be affected as well by the integration of the BAMF into GASIM.
Press release of the Federal Ministry of the Interior 17.07.06 // SZ 18.07.06 // FR 19.07.06

Declining number of youths with migration background in vocational training - Berlin launches special programme called "1000 Migrants"

According to the Federal Statistical Office, the chances of young foreigners to obtain vocational training opportunities have been continuously declining over the past years. Since 1994, the proportion of foreign youths undergoing vocational training has almost halved. Of the total of 1.55 million apprentices in 2005, 67,600 (4.4 per cent) had a foreign passport. In 2004, their proportion was still at 4.6 per cent, and in 1994 the percentage was at 8 per cent. The Turkish community in Germany asked the Federal Government to force companies to train more youths with a migration background by introducing a "ten-per-cent-provision". Against the background of a lack of 13,000 vocational training posts, the "red-red" (composed of SPD and Left Party) Berlin Senate has launched a special programme to support foreign youths with little knowledge of German and poor school leaving certificates. In 2006 and 2007, up to 1,200 young migrants under the age of 25 will be offered six-month courses to intensively prepare them for the vocational training and labour markets.
Die Welt (online) 24.07.06 // BZ 25.07.06 // Die Welt 26.07.06 // FR 27.07.06 // Die Welt 29.07.06

Berlin issues deportation ban

With its temporary ban of deportations of about 14,000 asylum seekers tolerated in Germany for many years, the Senator of the Interior of Berlin, Ehrhart Körting, is at the head of those federal states that favour more human solutions regarding residence titles which will be decided about on the occasion of the Conference of the Interior Ministers to be held in autumn. The provision applies to all refused asylum applicants as well as refugees that have been tolerated over many years, who have entered Germany before 1 June 2000 and who have one minor child. Not included are, however, refugees who have criminal records or who have "obtained their residence titles surreptitiously by stating false identities". Moreover, the persons concerned must be able to earn their living themselves. The ordinance remains in force and is limited until the end of the year. "We assume that this regulation will be confirmed at the next Conference of the Interior Ministers", said a spokesman of the Berlin Ministry of the Interior. "To us, it makes no sense at this point to continue with the deportation of families that would - only a few weeks later - fall under the new provisions regulating residence titles."
SZ 28.07.06 // Die Tageszeitung 28.07.06

Baden-Württemberg: Judgement triggers off new discussion on headscarf ban

In its judgement of 7 July 2006, the Administrative Court of Stuttgart has allowed a teacher who has converted to Islam to wear a headscarf due to the fact that in the federal state of Baden-Württemberg also nuns are allowed to wear habits while teaching at school. This administrative practice would constitute an infringement of the principle of equality foreseen by the German Basic Law (Ref.: 18 K 3562/05). The German Conference of Religious (Deutsche Ordensobernkonferenz - DOK) welcomed the judgement. Like the habits of nuns, the headscarf would be an expression of faith. Therefore, female teachers of Islamic faith wearing headscarf and nuns should be treated equally. However, the Minister of Education, Mr Rau (CDU), declared that the habit of nuns would not be an expression of faith but rather an expression of Christian traditions. Therefore, the government of the federal state would go to appeal the judgement. The Green party in the parliament of the federal state reintroduced a bill initially brought forward in 2004 to amend the School Act. According to this bill, female teachers should be allowed to wear headscarf except in individual cases in which the school authorities may prohibit headscarves if the "school peace would be interfered or threatened". Rau refused this procedure, arguing that transferring the decision on headscarf bans to individual schools would place too great demands on the schools and would run the risk of creating states of chaos.
Press release of the Administrative Court (VG) Stuttgart 07.07.06 // FAZ 08.07.06 // SZ 12.07.06 // FAZ 27.07.06

Asylum statistics

In July 2006, a total of 1,390 persons have submitted a petition for political asylum in Germany. The figure constitutes a decrease of 7.6 per cent (-114 persons) compared to June 2006. Compared to July 2005, the number of asylum seekers has declined by 35.3 per cent (-760 persons). The main countries of origin in July 2006 were Serbia and Montenegro (225), Iraq (140) and Turkey (117) followed by the Russian Federation (75) and Vietnam (73). In July 2006, the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees has reviewed the petitions of 2,373 asylum seekers, 11 (0.5 per cent) of whom have been recognised as entitled to political asylum. A further 94 persons (3.9 per cent) have been granted protection against deportation according to §60, paragraph 1, Residence Act. The applications of 1,457 persons (61.4 per cent) have been rejected. The cases of another 811 persons (34.2 per cent) have been closed for other reasons, for example because applicants have withdrawn their petitions.
Press release BMI of 07.08.06

July 2006

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