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efms Migration Report

June 2007

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EU Commission tries to define rules on how to deal with boat refugees

By defining guidelines on how to deal with shipwrecked refugees, the EU Commission wants to overcome problems that are due to unclear responsibilities as regards the reception of such refugees. Open issues regarding the question of which Member State would be in charge of these refugees not only lead to tensions between the EU Member States but also cause refugees again and again to face serious or even life-threatening situations. According to refugee reports, it repeatedly happened that ships passing by people in distress would ignore these persons and that some bordering countries would deny ships to enter their ports which have rescued refugees on board. This happened despite the fact that the international maritime law required from every captain firstly to rescue people in distress and secondly from every surrounding state to allow rescued persons to go ashore, criticised Stefan Schmidt, a member of the recently founded association "borderline-europe - Menschenrechte ohne Grenzen (human rights without borders). Borderline-europe"s aim is to inform about the misery of refugees at the EU"s external borders, which in the opinion of the organisation is due to the repeal of the international maritime and human rights laws by the practice in the EU. By setting up guidelines, the EU Commission wants to define criteria under which boat refugees are to be rescued and which Member State would afterwards be obliged to let them go ashore. In addition, EU Commissioner Franco Frattini appealed to the Member States to finally provide the equipment promised to the border protection agency Frontex in order to allow special rescue operations to be implemented. Instead of the foreseen 115 ships, 25 helicopters and 23 aircraft, Frontex would currently dispose of only 20 ships and four helicopters.
FR 05.06.07 // IHT 07.06.07 // FAZ 08.06.07 // SZ 10.06.07 // taz online 20.06.07

UNHCR: Actions taken by the BAMF are not in accordance with the Geneva Refugee Conventions

According to UNHCR spokesman Stefan Telöken, the United Nation"s High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has criticised actions taken by the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) as regards Iraqi refugees saying that they are in accordance with the Geneva Refugee Conventions. Recently, the BAMF has deprived many Iraqi nationals of their asylum status, arguing that extremely threatening situations would no longer have to be expected after the fall of Saddam Hussein. In 2006, 18,000 Iraqi nationals were affected by the revocation of their asylum status. Some of them are now living in Germany without secure residence status. According to the Refugee Conventions, however, lasting and stable changes needed to prevail in a country of origin before persons could be deprived of their refugee status. Yet, this would not be the case in Iraq, according to Telöken. In another report, the UNHCR calls for more instead of less protection to be offered to Iraqi refugees. The increase in the worldwide number of refugees in 2006 (9.9 million international refugees, 1.2 million more than in 2005), which in the opinion of the UNHCR is due to the war in Iraq, would be another evidence supporting the demands of the High Commissioner. In the past year, about 1.5 million Iraqi nationals were seeking protection outside Iraq. The BAMF, however, replied to these critics already in past May by stopping its revocation practice for certain groups of persons from Iraq, such as members of religious minorities as for example Christians, Mandaens and Yazidis. Excluded from this halt are persons such as criminals or others threatening Germany"s internal security.
BZ 20.06.07 // taz 28.06.07 // Migration Report 2006

Expansion of deserts as a cause for migration flows

According to a report of the United Nations, a future increase in the number of refugees is to be expected due to the expansion of deserts and the destruction of settlement areas caused by it. According to the report, the Sahel region in Africa but also regions in Central Asia are particularly threatened. Currently, as many as 100 to 200 million would be already affected by the expansion of the deserts so that estimations expect about 50 million more refugees within the next ten years. The report assumes that only a small proportion of them will have the opportunity to escape to Europe and that most of the migration flows will move within the continents affected.
SZ 29.06.07 // Die Welt 29.06.07

Reform of the Immigration Act passes the Federal Parliament

Despite harsh criticism by the opposition parties and some Nays from among the social democrats (SPD), the German Bundestag, the Federal Parliament, has adopted on 14 June 2007 the law on the implementation of the directives of the European Union regulating residence and asylum law affairs. By amending the law, eleven EU directives are to be transposed into national law. Inter alia, the rights to remain of tolerated foreigners are to be regulated, the subsequent immigration of spouses will be subject to stricter regulations, and the demand for a stronger active integration of foreigners will be stressed. While the CDU party was satisfied with the amendments, the SPD considered them a painful compromise. The opposition parties comprising the FDP, the Left Party and the Greens complained that the amendments would restrict the law in force considerably. Especially criticised were the new regulations governing the subsequent immigration of spouses according to which the spouse who wants to immigrate needs to be at least 18 years old and has to have a basic knowledge of the German language in order to be allowed to immigrate to Germany. The aim behind this provision, according to the government, is to better protect women against forced marriages. The Left Party criticised that the instrument actually most effective against forced marriages, an independent right of residence, would not be introduced. Josef Winkler (of the Greens) called the regulation an "anti-Turkey clause" as the majority of those coming to join their spouses would be of Turkish origin and the requirements to be fulfilled would not be applicable to persons willing to immigrate from other countries. According to Sybille Schreiber, expert of the women"s association Terre de Femmes, the aim of impeding forced marriages would be an "alibi argument" of Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU).
hib-meldungen Bundestag 13.06.07 // SZ 14.06.07 // taz 14.06.07 // FR 15.06.07 // FAZ 15.06.07 // Das Parlament 18.06.07 // NN 19.06.07

Introduction of a score system for regulating the immigration of highly-qualified workers being discussed

In the debate about opening Germany for the immigration of highly-qualified workers, the possibility of introducing a score system as a means of regulation is being discussed. In his reply to an inquiry of the MoP Sybille Laurischk of the FDP party, Federal Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU) said that the Federal Government could possibly imagine the introduction of a score system. Such system would allow to rate potential immigrants according to "utility criteria", such as vocational training background and language skills. This would offer the advantage of allowing the government to select new immigrants in a target-oriented manner. Employers" associations and even trade unions are in favour of such a system. Member of Parliament Dieter Wiefelspütz (SPD) said that he could get to like such system as it enabled the state to further control immigration. Federal Education Minister, Annette Schavan (CDU) also stressed that Germany needed to become interesting for the "world"s best minds".
taz 08.06.07 // taz online 12.06.07 // Handelsblatt 13.06.07 // Der Spiegel 18.06.07 // SZ 26.06.07 // BZ 27.06.07 // Tagesspiegel 27.06.07

Federal Government provides more funds for integration courses

On 27 June 2007, Federal Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU) presented to the Federal Government a report on the effectiveness of the integration courses. On this occasion, he announced an increase of the funds to be provided for 2008 - in future, 154.8 million euros will be made available for integration courses, which is 14 million euros more than available so far. With this increase, the refund rate paid by the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees to the institutions offering the courses per participant and lesson to finance the integration courses will be increased by 15 per cent to an amount of 2.35 euros. In addition, the number of participants will be limited to 20 persons and a transparent competition in terms of quality among the 1,500 institutions offering courses will be promoted. Schäuble plans to introduce these changes in the second half of 2007 by amending the ordinance governing the implementation of integration courses.
Press release of BMI 27.06.07 // FAZ 28.06.07

Chances to gain right to remain for refugees only tolerated so far are most likely in Southern Germany

A comparison of information on the granting of rights to remain provided by the Interior Ministers and Senators of the federal states has revealed that tolerated foreigners seem to have best chances to be granted the right to remain in the federal states in Southern Germany, which are otherwise known for their strict foreigners" policy. According to the report, Bavaria - with a granting rate of 31.5 per cent - has so far granted the largest number of applicants a limited right to remain. Tolerated persons would have also relatively good chances on a successful petition in the federal states of Hesse, Baden-Württemberg and Rhineland-Palatinate. With a granting rate of 2.72 per cent, the Saarland follows the strictest granting policy. The Bavarian Interior Minister Günther Beckstein (CSU) was satisfied with the implementation of the regulation governing the right to remain and added that in Bavaria the provisions on the right to remain would not be applied in a harassing but in a generous way.
SZ 26.06.07

Support programme to stop the outflow of persons from Eastern Germany

A new support programme of the Federal Government is to reduce the outflow of persons, and particularly of young women, from Eastern Germany. Wolfgang Tiefensee (SPD), Federal Minister of Transport, Building and Urban Development, has announced plans to implement in an initial phase pilot projects in two regions in Eastern Germany in order to find out how it is possible to maintain supply structures in sparsely populated areas. Among other measures to be supported are projects on the mobile provision of health services, multi-generation housing projects, mobile libraries and bus services on demand. Stephan Hilsberg, MoP of the SPD from Eastern Germany, said that the plans of Mr Tiefensee sounded like a joke against the background of the demographic forecasts for certain regions. Even though such plans would not be bad, they would not be far reaching enough. Hilsberg asked Tiefensee to pay attention to the impoverishment potentials existing in some regions as many young men would have lost meanwhile any contact to the rest of the society.
BZ 04.06.07

Again immigration of Jews from the former Soviet Union

Following a factual immigration stop over the last two and a half years, immigration of so-called Jewish quota refugees from the former Soviet Union can take place again, even though under stricter conditions. In 2005 already, the Central Committee of the Jews, the Union of Progressive Jews and the Interior Ministers of the federal states agreed on new immigration provisions. However, they could not be employed before the entering into force of the 7th law on the amendment of the Federal Expellees Act adopted on 16 May 2007. In future, the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) will be in charge of implementing the provisions, and no longer the Federal Ministry of the Interior together with the federal states. As a prerequisite for entering Germany, positive "integration forecasts" are needed now, which are drawn up by the BAMF on the basis of a score system to assess the immigrants. This system is to evaluate, inter alia, if the immigrants are able to earn their livings in order not to depend on the payment of welfare benefits. Moreover, the Central Welfare Office of the Jews - in cooperation with the Union of Progressive Jews - needs to confirm that the applicants will be accepted in a Jewish community. Joachim Waldenmeier of the BAMF expects 2,000 - 5,000 Jewish immigrants to come per year. The President of the Central Committee of the Jews, Paul Spiegel, considered the agreement found in 2005 to be a fair compromise.
Jüdische Allgemeine 28.06.07 // BMI_HinweiseAendGesetz.pdf

Tensions in Christian-Islamic dialogue

The position of the Christian churches in Germany towards Islam seems to have hardened: both, representatives of the Protestant Church and of the Catholic Church expressed a feeling of uneasiness about the current intent of Islamic institutions in Germany to obtain the status of a public corporation. Cardinal Lehmann, for example, warned about treating all religious communities in Germany equally and to grant the status of being a public corporation "relatively randomly". In the past, the Protestant Bishop Huber has expressed his understanding for criticism on certain construction plans for mosques. The differences between the Protestant Church of Germany ("EKD" in its German abbreviation) and leading representatives of Islam are mainly due to a handout titled "Klarheit und Gute Nachbarschaft" (Clarity and good vicinity) published by the EKD in November 2006. There, the differences between the two religions are outlined and Islam is criticised. At a meeting between the EKD and the Coordination Committee of Muslims ("KRM" in its German abbreviation) at the Yavuz-Sultan-Selim mosque in Mannheim on 30 May 2007, no agreement could be reached on controversial standpoints. In a statement of the KRM it was said that the paper contained inappropriate generalizations and "pure scaremongering". Huber countered that the paper constituted an urgently needed differentiation and Muslims would with no word be suspected in general. On the occasion of the Protestants" Church Day held in Cologne from 6 - 10 June 2007, Bekir Alboga, commissioner of the Turkish institute for religion Ditib, complained about the existence of a "strained relation". Representatives of both religions, however, stressed that the dialogue needed to be continued.
21.06.07 // taz 22.06.07

CDU: Discussion on migration issues

The Christian-Democratic Union (CDU) seems to change its positions as regards migration issues. On the one hand, this can be clearly seen in the area of integration: in a draft programme of the CDU there is the talk of Germany being a country of integration. All citizens benefited from a successful integration and controlled immigration, both in the economy and at work as well as in daily social life. Moreover, in one paragraph of the basic programme of the CDU party it is said that the state under the rule of law and Islam are basically compatible. Within the party, however, there is disagreement on the immigration of highly-qualified workers. Federal Minister Schavan, for example, expressed herself in favour of facilitating immigration. Especially the minimum salary requirement of 85.000 euros annually foreseen by the Immigration Act would be too high. The chairman of the Union party, Volker Kauder, however, declared in contrast that first of all the immigrants already living here and youths without school leaving degree needed to be qualified in a better way and added that he would agree with the Federal Minister only on the issue of taking measures against the current lack of highly-qualified workers.
FAZ 28.06.07 // Die Welt 29.06.07

Berlin: First immigration summit in the German capital

On 22 June 2007, the first integration summit in Berlin was held with the participation of senators and secretaries of state from all Berlin administration departments of the Senate, who had been invited by Berlin"s Mayor, Klaus Wowereit (SPD). He presented the integration concept of the "red-red coalition" to the almost 500 participants: 45 core projects aim at reducing the disadvantages migrants face at work, school or in social life. The goals achieved in the area of integration will be revised and summarised in reports on an annual basis. Most important goal would be to improve the opportunities of migrants as regards finding vocational training and work places, said Wowereit. Even though it would be an encouraging signal that meanwhile almost 18 per cent of the young migrants would finish school with an university entrance qualification (Abitur), which corresponds to an increase of 6 per cent since the year 2000, the total number would still be much too small. Some representatives of migrant associations were rather sceptical about the outcomes of the integration summit. Celal Altun of the Turkish Community of Berlin said that his organisation would not expect any substantial results. Also Jens-Uwe Thomas, representing the Refugee Council, was convinced that the integration paper would contain only non-binding declarations of intent. In contrast, the Vice-President of the Islamic Federation of Berlin (IFB), Burhan Kesici, said that his association would use the summit to foster contacts and hoped to intensify the cooperation with other migrant organisations.
BZ 22.06.07 // BZ 22.06.07 // SZ 23.06.07

Asylum statistics

In June 2007, a total of 1,241 persons has submitted a petition for political asylum in Germany. The figure constitutes a decrease of 7.9 per cent (-106 persons) compared to May 2007. Compared to June 2006, the number of asylum seekers has declined by 17.5 per cent (-263 persons). In June, the main countries of origin were Serbia (138), Iraq (135), Turkey (119), Vietnam (81) and the Russian Federation (78).In this month, the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees decided on 2,084 asylum applications. Twenty-eight persons (1.3 per cent) were recognised as being entitled to political asylum. Another 284 persons (13.6 per cent) were granted protection against deportation according to § 60, paragraph 1, Residence Act.The applications of 1,090 persons (52.3 per cent) have been rejected. The cases of a further 643 persons (30.9 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 09.07.07

June 2007

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