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efms Migration Report

July 2007

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United Nations hold World Forum on Migration and Development

The first international meeting of the United Nations on the topics of migration and development was held in Brussels from 9 to 11 July 2007. The meeting focussed on the question under which circumstances the positive potentials migration offers for the development of the different countries could be turned into benefits. The more than 800 representatives from 155 states agreed that migration should no longer be considered as a threat but rather as an opportunity: With the cooperation of all states involved, international migration should be shaped in a way so as to contribute to a "win-win-win-situation" for the countries of origin and the countries of destination and for the migrants themselves. UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, said that the countries of origin would benefit from the money earned and the know-how gathered abroad. In the host countries, in turn, immigrants would strengthen the economic power and contributed to cultural life. The aim of the Forum was to discuss on international level questions of migration and to exchange experiences. Renate Stuth, head of the department for migration of the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), said that her department had obtained at the conference a huge number of ideas that could serve as the basis for future pilot projects. A follow-up conference is scheduled to take place on the Philippines in 2008.
Migrationsrecht online 09.07.07 // Der Standard online 10.07.07 // Das Parlament 16.07.07

Malta asks for EU support to cope with the immigration of refugees

Against the background of the relatively high number of refugees coming as boat refugees to the country across the Mediterranean Sea, the Maltese government feels to be overstrained and has hence asked the other EU Member States to support the island. Already in June, the Maltese prime minister Lawrence Gonzi demanded that the refugees be distributed also to other EU Member States, which was refused by the latter, however. In reply to this call, Germany, France and Greece sent at least boats, helicopters and aircraft in order to support the very small Maltese navy in its patrols on sea. According to Gonzi, 1,700 refugees arrived on Malta in 2006 alone, which is one of the smallest and most highly populated EU Member States. If this number of refugees was converted to the situation in Germany, it would correspond to a number of illegal immigrants of about 360,000 persons annually, said Gonzi. The system would be under high pressure: Due to the high population density an integration of the recognised refugees would be difficult; in addition, Malta needed support in identifying and returning illegal immigrants. Because of the problems, Gonzi fears an increase of xenophobia his country. Members of refugee organisations, such as the local representation of the refugee relief organisation of the United Nations (UNHCR), confirm such a development. Also the situation in the closed Maltese refugee camps was criticised. Not only relief organisations but also members of EU institutions such as the European Parliament and the EU Commission for Human Rights have criticised the hygienic conditions; moreover, there were reports on forced prostitution and violent encroachments by camp officers.
SZ 05.05.07 // FTD 19.07.07

Council of Europe discusses increase in anti-Semitism in Europe

On the occasion of a parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe (CoE) held on 25 June 2007, the further increase in anti-Semitism in Europe was discussed. As early as in 2000, a report of the Vienna-based European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC) revealed a considerable increase in anti-Semitism particularly in Belgium, Germany, France, the Netherlands and Great Britain. In 2007, the Council of Europe recorded a further increase in anti-Semitism: It would be expressed in quite many different ways and would have spread to a relatively wide extent throughout all CoE Member States. Not only right-wing extremist groups would disseminate such propaganda, but also left-wing extremists and Islamistic fundamentalist. Therefore, the parliamentary assembly called its Member States to prosecute the undermining of basic values by misusing basic rights such as the freedom of speech, of the press and the freedom of assembly. Moreover, legislation needed to be amended in a way so that anti-Semitic acts were punished more strictly in criminal proceedings.
NZZ 30.06.07

Second Integration Summit of the Federal Government: National Integration Plan praised; Islamic associations boycotting it criticised

On 12 July 2007, Federal Chancellor Angel Merkel (CDU) invited 80 representatives of the federal states, municipalities, migration associations and non-government organisations to participate in the second Integration Summit held in the Federal Chancellery. The summit was aimed at - in cooperation with the immigrants - fostering the integration of the around 15 million persons with migration background living in Germany. Special attention was given to the presentation of the "National Integration Plan" by the Federal Chancellor. Since the last summit one year ago, this plan had been elaborated by six working groups and contains more than 400 measures and voluntary commitments on integration, such as the improvement of the integration courses, early (language) support measures for migrant children and assistance offers for finding vocational training opportunities. Already a day before, 150 of these measures were adopted by a decision of the Federal Government. Federal Chancellor Merkel was pleased about it and called the Integration Plan a milestone in the national integration policy. Also the participants of the summit found positive words for the document: The member of the national management committee of the Federation of German Trade Unions (DGB), Annelie Buntenbach, for instance, said that the plan would be very substantiated and that she wished that the contents would be turned into reality. Several sides, however, also called for the introduction of success control mechanisms when assessing the implementation of the Plan. Armin Laschet (CDU), the Integration Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, said that an expert body needed to be established which would meet biannually to revise the implementation of the Plan, if it wanted to produce more than just symbolic outcomes. The summit was overshadowed by the boycott of four German-Turkish associations: the Federation of Turkish Parents" Associations, the Turkish-German Health Association, the Turkish Community in Germany and the Turkish-Islamic Union of the Institute for Religion (Ditib) did not attend the summit in protest against the tightening of provisions in the Immigration Act. The new provisions would obstruct integration and were discriminating. Even though Merkel criticised the absence of the associations, she added that the Federal Government would not close the doors so that they could always have the opportunity to participate in the process again.
Der Spiegel online 07.07.07 // Nationaler Integrationsplan // Der Spiegel online 12.07.07 // FAZ 12.07.07 // Die Welt 12.07.07 // FR 12.07.07 // FR 13.07.07 // FTD 13.07.07 // taz 13.07.07 // SZ 13.07.07

Federal Government considers earlier opening of the labour market for Eastern Europeans

Within the context of the debate on the immigration of highly-qualified workers, the Federal Government is now considering an earlier lifting of the restrictions on the freedom of movement for certain professions, which are contained in the framework of the Eastern enlargement of the EU. On the basis of the EU treaties, the restrictions could remain in force until 2011. Gerd Andres (SPD), state secretary of the Federal Ministry of Labour, had proposed to take this into consideration, but also linked the lifting of restrictions to the introduction of minimum wages in accordance with the law on the posting of workers. The spokesman of the Federal Government, Ulrich Willhelm (CSU), said a concerted position within the Federal Government would not have been found so far. The Federal Minister of Economics, Michael Glos (CSU), appealed that the national potentials should first be used and added that there would be still a huge pool of unemployed labour force in Germany. In contrast, representatives of the economy and of science called for a speeded-up opening of the labour market. The chief executive of the German Chamber of Industry and Commerce (DIHK in its German abbreviation), Achim Dercks, considered the approaches to be a positive signal and said that an earlier opening of the labour market finally seemed to be no longer a taboo. Klaus Zimmermann, President of the German Institute of Economic Research (DIW), also expressed himself in favour of an opening, arguing that the fear of fundamental changes on the labour market due to the competition from Eastern Europe would be unfounded as surveys from Sweden, Ireland and Great Britain have shown that the effects of the freedom of movement would be rather positive.
FAZ 25.07.07 // FAZ 26.07.07 // FAZ 27.07.07

Naturalisations: For the first time on the rise again

According to the Federal Statistical Office, the number of naturalisations has increased again for the first time since 2001. In the past year, almost 125,000 foreigners were given a German passport, which constitutes an increase of 6.5 per cent compared to 2005. The immigrant group with the highest proportion of naturalisations in 2006 were Turks with 33,500 persons, which was followed by citizens from Serbia and Montenegro with 12,600 persons and 7,000 persons from Poland. The highest rate of increase compared with the previous year was recorded for the group of Israelis with a rise in the number of naturalisations by 50 per cent (4,300 persons). After having reached its peak level in the year 2000 with 187,000 naturalisations, the number had been continuously declining until 2006. Kenan Kolat, chairman of the Turkish Community in Germany (TGD in its German abbreviation), was pleased about the increase and said that getting naturalised would still be the best way to participate in the social life in Germany with equal rights. He added, however, he did not believe that the figure stands for a new trend but would rather be due to simplified administrative procedures and more generous decisions of the authorities. He expected that an amendment of the Immigration Act would be likely to reduce the number of applications for naturalisations again.
SZ 24.07.07 // taz 24.04.07 // FR 24.04.07

Upper House of German Parliament adopts amendments of the Immigration Act

Following the Lower House of the German Parliament, the Bundestag, also the Upper House of the Parliament, the Bundesrat, cleared on 6 July 2007 the way for amending the Immigration Act, which had been in force since 2005. Directly after its publishing in the Federal Law Gazette, the disputed act on the implementation of EU directives regulating residence and asylum laws will enter into force. That way, stricter provisions on the reunification of families and penalties for refusing the participation in integration measures will become effective, which are particularly criticised by migrants" associations and the opposition parties. The Turkish Community in Germany talked about a "black day" for integration policy and announced to file a complaint of unconstitutionality against the language requirements which it considers to be ethnically discriminating. According to the new provision, spouses willing to immigrate need to provide evidence of having German language skills already before entering Germany. In contrast, however, the act offers opportunities for foreigners who have been tolerated in Germany over many years - they will be given the chance to obtain a secure residence status in Germany. In another decision taken at the same time, the Upper House, where the German federal states are represented, underlined that a target-oriented immigration of highly-qualified workers needed to be in the interest of Germany as a business location.
Press release Bundesrat 06.07.07 // KNA 06.07.07 // Die Welt 07.07.07 // FR 07.07.07

Schäuble intends to penalize acts preparatory to terrorist offences

In order to amend the anti-terror laws, Federal Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU) has presented a draft bill on the penalisation of acts preparatory to terrorist offences according to which the visit to terrorist training camps, the collection of money for terrorist attacks as well as the possession and the dissemination of manuals on how to build bombs will be subject to penalties. With this initiative, however, Schäuble interferes with the competences of Federal Minister of Justice, Brigitte Zypries (SPD). The latter commented the initiative by saying merely that there would be no signs indicating that the competences within the government for issues concerning the criminal law would have changed. German security authorities said that they expected especially young men to be sent to Germany by Islamistic terrorist organisations. Moreover, they would be concerned about numerous Islamists who had returned to Germany after staying in Pakistan. It was said that especially in the surroundings of the city of Ulm a lively Islamist scene had evolved. High-ranking security officials said they would have grounds to believe that at least three or four persons, who recently returned from Pakistan, have moved to the area of the cities of Ulm and Neu-Ulm.
taz 16.07.07 // SZ 24.07.07

Proportion of students with migration background only at 8 per cent

The latest survey on the social conditions of the German students" welfare organisation DSW has for the first time provided detailed data on the group of students having a migration background. The results revealed that the proportion of persons with a migration background amounts only to 8 per cent of all students at German universities, which clearly indicates an underrepresentation of this group, said DSW president Prof. Rolf Dobischat. Of these, 43 per cent would be so-called "educational Germans", i.e. foreign students who acquired their university entrance qualification at German schools. With a proportion of 41 per cent, clearly more students having a migration background would be from lower social classes than the average of students (13 per cent). Thus, also a larger proportion would depend on Federal Education Support Act payments (Bafög) or had to earn their own money: Thirty-three per cent of them would receive Bafög compared to only 25 per cent of the other students. Also four percentage points (67 per cent) above the average of all students would be the proportion of students with a migration background who had to work. Dobischat added that if the potentials and the talents of this social group were to be used in its entirety, this would require dedicated support measures on all levels of the education system. Those complaining today about the lack of highly-skilled workers needed to mobilise the potential reserves of the persons with a migration background, he said.
Informationsdienst der Wissenschaft online 11.07.07

Munich: Radical Christian Islam critics stir up hatred against Muslims

A group of Christian fanatics from Munich, calling itself "Deus Vult Amorem" (God wants love), stirs up hatred against Muslims and fans the flames of fear by systematically disturbing events addressing the situation of Muslims. In one case, about seven persons had, literally speaking, broken up a lecture of the Islam scientist Mathias Rohe from Erlangen which was given within the framework of a series of municipal lectures titled "Vielfalt ist machbar " ("Variety is feasible"), according to organiser of the lecture, Margret Spohn. In the discussion round, the troublemakers would have shouted down the other participants. After the sharp response of a Muslim attendant, turmoil was triggered off. A few days after the incident, Rohe was sent an anonymous threat of murder by email in which he was informed that for his doings he only deserves being sentenced to death. On the occasion of the hearing of citizens on the planned construction of a mosque in the Munich district of Sendlingen, the speech given by the Lord Mayor of Munich, Christian Ude (SPD), was also heavily disturbed by interruptions. On its website, the group announced that its members wanted to visit such events throughout the year as "irksome opponents" who wished to do something against the "gossip of political correctness". The main objective of the group would be to impede the construction of the mosque in Sendlingen. Moreover, the disturbance of the lectures on the topic of Islam was also meant to "unmask the targeted and incorrect information spread by Islam" in order to impede the establishment of an aggressive political Islam in Germany, said a member of Deus Vult Amorem.
SZ 27.07.07

Administrative Court of Stuttgart: Christian asylum applicants from Iran not to be deported

On the basis of a directive of the Council of the European Union, the so-called Qualification Directive, the Administrative Court (VG) of Stuttgart decided on 9 July 2007 that Christian refugees from Iran may not be deported to their country of origin. The limitation of the freedom to practice religion to the privacy would not be reasonable. Before, the law suit of an Iranian women, who always had to keep secret her faith in the home country, to be granted a residence right was rejected with the argument that the minimum rights to practice religion would be given also in Iran as she could practice her Christian faith in her privacy and within her neighbourhood. Now, the EU Qualification Directive has changed the legal situation.
Press release Administrative Court Stuttgart 09.07.07 // NZ 10.07.07

Asylum statistics

In July 2007, a total of 1,483 persons has submitted a petition for political asylum in Germany. The figure constitutes an increase of 19.5 per cent (+242 persons) compared to June 2007. Compared to July 2006, the number of asylum seekers has increased by 6.7 per cent (+93 persons). In July, the main countries of origin were Iraq (345), Serbia (135), Turkey (102) and Vietnam (93), followed by the Russian Federation (68). In July, the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees decided on 2,341 asylum applications. Twenty persons (0.9 per cent) were recognised as entitled to political asylum. A further 724 applicants (30.9 per cent) have been granted protection against deportation according to §60, paragraph 1, Residence Act. The petitions of 967 applicants (41.3 per cent) have been rejected. The cases of a further 582 persons (24.9 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 14.08.07

July 2007

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