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efms Migration Report

July 2008

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EU: Agreement on general principles for immigration pact

Following an initiative of France, which has taken on the EU Council Presidency on 1 July 2008, the 27 European Ministers for the Interior and Justice agreed on 7 July 2008 in Cannes on general principles for an "immigration and asylum pact". This pact is expected to serve as a tool to reorganise immigration to Europe by means of controlling legal migration and fighting irregular migration. In future, legal immigration is to be aligned with and adapted to the requirements of the labour markets and the reception capacities of the social systems of the EU Member States. The aim is to establish a so-called "circular migration" according to which immigrants return after some years in the EU to their home countries with the opportunity to re-enter the EU later again. Along with the so-called Return Directive, which was adopted by the European Parliament in June already, common standards governing the return procedures for irregular immigrants have been defined on the one hand. At the same time, not officially authorised immigration is to be limited by a better surveillance of the external borders and a stricter deportation practice. Following controversial debates, a passage was deleted from the document that provided for the prohibition of mass legalisations which are considered to have a "magnetic attraction" for illegal migrants. Nonetheless, there would be no mass legalisations in future as the Ministers are agreed that this would not be the right approach, said Federal Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU). The pact is to be adopted already in October of this year. 22.07.08 // Handelsblatt 24.07.08

EU will not accept refugee quotas from Iraq for the time being

The EU Interior Ministers have followed a proposal of the German Federal Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU) and decided not to accept refugee quotas from Iraq for the time being. Before a decision to the contrary, it had to be evaluated until September if persecuted Iraqis could also return to their home country instead. During his visit to Germany in July, the Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki appealed to Germany not to accept Iraqi refugees for the time being and argued that the security situation had improved in his country and that it needed qualified citizens to reconstruct the country. The decision of the Interior Ministers has been criticised by refugee relief organisations and politicians. Sebastian Edathy (SPD) reproached Schäuble for having made a political turnaround because of national policy reasons after he initially had opted for a Europe-wide reception of Iraqis and added that the hope that a huge number of the 2.5 million displaced persons could return to Iraq shortly would be completely unrealistic. Also the refugee relief organisation of the United Nations (UNHCR) said that thousands of Iraqi nationals would still flee to the neighbouring countries, which meanwhile would be overstrained.
SZ 23.07.08 // FAZ 27.07.08 // FR 28.07.08

European Court of Justice strengthens rights of third-country nationals

On 25 July 2008, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has extended the freedom of movement of persons from non-EU countries who are married with a citizen of the European Union. In future, third-country nationals, who have not stayed legally in a country before, will be allowed to freely move and settle inside the EU together with his or her spouse. By taking this decision, the ECJ declared an Irish act as incompatible with EU law. The Irish act had foreseen that a third-country national, who is a family member of an EU citizen, may only stay or move to Ireland with him or her if the third-country national had stayed already before legally in another Member State.
Press release of ECJ of 25.07.08 // FR 26.07.08

Federal government adopts action programme to facilitate the immigration of qualified workers

On 16 July 2008, the Federal government has adopted the "Aktionsprogramm der Bundesregierung - Beitrag der Arbeitmigration zur Sicherung der Fachkräftebasis in Deutschland" (action programme of the Federal Government - the contribution of labour migration to securing the availability of qualified workers in Germany), which was prepared by Federal Interior Minister, Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU), and the Federal Minister of Labour, Olaf Scholz (SPD). From 1 January 2009, the so-called preference clause for academics from the new EU Member States will no longer be applied, which had to be used so far to prove that a job vacancy could not be filled with a national candidate. For highly qualified workers from third-countries, the labour market will be opened as well; however, their employment will also in future be subject to the preference clause. Moreover, the minimum salary highly-qualified persons have to earn annually will be reduced from 86,400 to 63,600 euros. Immigrants gaining such salary will be directly granted a permanent right of residence. For workers employed in the low-wage sector, the labour market will remain closed: The so-called transitional provision which will expire in April 2009, by which the immigration of workers from the new EU Member States to Germany was limited, will be renewed for the last time by another two years (until 2011). Trade and employers" associations as well as the FDP and the Green party criticised the action programme as being discouraged and insufficient and added that with such programme Germany would limp behind the development on international level. Schäuble and Scholz refused the critics and said the action programme would be a good tool in the world-wide competition for the best minds.
Reuters online 15.07.08 // Press release of Federal Ministry of the Interior (BMI) 16.07.08 // Informationsdienst der Wissenschaft 16.07.08 // FR 17.07.08 // Die Welt online 20.07.08 // Focus 28.07.08

State of health of children and youths with migration background insufficient

The findings of different studies have revealed that the state of health of children and youths from immigrant families is often worse compared to German children. Research reports of the Robert-Koch Institute (RKI) in Berlin and the findings drawn from the evaluation of the Kinder- und Jugendgesundheitssurveys (German Health Interview and Examination Survey for Children and Adolescents - KiGGS) have revealed for example that migrant children and adolescents suffer more often from tuberculosis than Germans of the same age. In addition, they are more often overweight or suffer from obesity, get injured more frequently in accidents at home, partly show lower vaccination quota and have a worse oral health. In contrast, children and adolescents with a migration background are less frequently affected by chronic diseases such as asthma, neurodermatitis and hay fever. According to the RKI, these differences can be attributed to a number of reasons: Migrants belonged more often than average to socially disadvantaged groups and suffered from psycho-social stress due to the separation from their families or because of xenophobia. But also differences in the way of life, different nutritional habits and social values were reasons for the proportionally worse state of health of migrant children and adolescents. The overweight of children, for example, would be considered by some migrant groups as a sign of a particularly good state of health.
FAZ 23.07.08

DGB critically evaluates the preliminary outcomes of the National Integration Plan

On 15 July 2008, the German Association of Trade Unions (DGB) criticised in Berlin the insufficient implementation of the objectives defined in the National Integration Plan. Annelie Buntenbauch, member of the DGB"s executive board, said that the National Integration Plan, which had been adopted in June 2007 by the Federal Government and which contains a total of 400 voluntary commitments on federal, state and municipal level for a better integration of persons with a migration background in Germany, has not marked the expected historical change towards an immigration society. She particularly criticised that the legal and political framework conditions had been excluded from the National Integration Plan. Marianne Demmer, member of the executive board of the Union of Persons Employed in Education and Science (GEW), said even though the National Integration Plan had put in motion the civil society, there would be a lack of commitment by the authorities. While the people tried hard, politics would just sit around and twiddle the thumbs, said Demmer.
Press release of DGB 15.07.08 // Junge Welt online 16.07.08

Muslim Coordination Council hardly capable of acting

One year after its foundation, the Muslim Coordination Council (KRM), which serves as umbrella organisation for four large Islamic associations in Germany, seems to have achieved only a few of its objectives. So far, no KRM association on federal state-level has been founded even though the application for the official recognition as religious community should have been filed only a few months after the KRM had taken up its work. Such foundation, however, is the most important prerequisite for applying for an official recognition. Therefore, the contact organisations on federal state-level are still associations on local level. The heterogeneous composition of the KRM is generally considered to bear problems. The four associations are highly different in terms of their political and religious orientations. Moreover, KRM"s claim of being a representative association is being questioned even by Muslims: Both the Alevits living in Germany and Muslim who are less religious do not feel represented by the KRM.
KNA 23.07.08

Cabinet adopts introduction of electronic personal ID

On 23 July 2008, the Federal Cabinet has decided to issue from 2010 onwards electronic personal identity cards instead of the identity cards used so far. The new ID format is expected to offer more security against forgery and to facilitate purchases through the internet. The new ID is equipped with an integrated chip that contains personal data such as name, age, address and a photo. Due to corresponding demands of the SPD party, the storage of finger prints will be optional. While the authorities are given unrestricted access to the data, it will be up to the citizens" discretion whether or not they agree to an exchange of the data when privately using the new electronic ID at a shop, for example. The opposition parties warned of a storage of finger prints. Claudia Roth, member of the Green party, said that there would the risk that unauthorised persons used the data secretly. Moreover, there would be other data protection standards abroad where the personal data could be read as well.
Press release of the Federal Ministry of the Interior 23.07.08 // SZ 22.07.08 // Die Welt 24.07.08

North Rhine-Westphalia: Naturalised persons acquire university entrance qualification more often than Germans

Naturalised youths acquire more often the German "Abitur" (university entrance qualification) than youths without migration background. This is the finding of the current Integration Report published by the Government of the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia. According to the report, 30 per cent of the naturalised persons acquired a university entrance qualification in 2006 compared to only 27 per cent of the German youths. As regards the school-leaving certificates, the new citizens were taken into account separately in order to avoid the distorting differentiation between Germans and foreigners, said Armin Laschet (CDU), Integration Minister of the North Rhine-Westphalia. If every successful immigrant was registered only as regular German upon his or her naturalisation, success stories would be overseen, said Laschet. He made a call to the Federal Government to register the performance of migrants in future by means of special evaluation counts.
Der Spiegel 28.07.08 // FR 29.07.08

Lower Saxony: Plans for training of Imams at universities

The federal state of Lower Saxony plans to set-up a course for the training of Muslim clergymen at the University of Osnabrück. Lower Saxony"s Interior Minister Uwe Schünemann (CDU) said that the training of Imams at German universities would positively contribute to integration and improve the acceptance of Islam, said Schünemann. A study of the Duisburg-based social scientist Rauf Ceylan titled "Imame in Deutschland" (Imams in Germany) seems to substantiate the need for training offers for Imams. The study findings revealed that the clergymen send to Germany from abroad - in their majority from Turkey - would usually be prepared insufficiently for their work and therefore contributed little to the integration of Muslims in Germany. A problem would be, for instance, that only one fifth of the clergymen had passed scientific training and that for the lay preachers particularly the correct citation would be at the fore. Therefore, they were susceptible for a superficial interpretation of the Koran. Moreover, many of the Imams (20 per cent) belonged to fundamentalist-conservative schools.
BZ 25.07.08 // NZ 30.06.08

Berlin: Muslims plan project against forced marriages

An initiative of three Islamic organisations in Berlin plans a project titled "Aktionsbündnis Zwangsehen" (action committee against forced marriages) which follows the Dutch initiative "hand in hand against forced marriages". The aim is to prevent forced marriages in the Muslim community by providing information. The message that forced marriages are forbidden in Islam is to be communicated into the Muslim community by organising seminars and meetings. The Islam critics Necla Kelek welcomed that Muslims and Islamic associations admitted that forced marriages constituted a problem within the Muslim societies. However, she also considers this plan as an attempt to "catch and advise in Muslim way" Muslim girls who have become more self-confident in order to prevent them from contacting official centres and from turning away from Islam.
taz 17.07.08 // FAZ online 29.07.08

Asylum statistics

In July 2008, a total of 1,793 persons has submitted a petition for political asylum in Germany, which is an increase of 7.2 per cent (+121 persons) over the month before. Compared to July 2007, the number of asylum applicants has increased by 20.9 per cent (+310 persons). In July, the main countries of origin were Iraq (553), Turkey (89), Kosovo (85) and Vietnam (80) followed by Syria (71). In this month, the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees decided on the asylum applications of 1,745 persons. A total of 30 persons (1.7 per cent) was recognised as being entitled to political asylum whereas 578 persons (33.1 per cent) were granted protection against deportation according to § 60, paragraph 1 of the Residence Act. The applications of 545 persons (31.2 per cent) were rejected. The cases of a further 541 persons (31 per cent) have been closed for other reasons (e.g. due to suspensions of asylum procedures because persons have withdrawn their applications).

July 2008

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