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efms Migration Report

May 2006

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EU aid for Spain to combat wave of incoming refugees

Due to the growing number of migrants from Africa, Spain will receive EU aids. Since the beginning of the year, more than 8,000 illegal African migrants have already arrived in the Canary Islands by boat, which is as much as more than double the number of the whole of 2005. On the second weekend of May alone, 15 boats with 974 refugees on board landed on the islands of Tenerife, Gomera and Gran Canaria. As of 10 June 2006, eight Member States (Germany, France, Great Britain and Italy, inter alia) will provide patrol boats and aircraft within the framework of the border control agency Frontex - established in 2005 - to control particularly problematic coastal areas. Moreover, EU commissioner Franco Frattini announced to provide in future the amount of 628 million euros to a European refugee fund, which are to be used to finance the repatriation of illegal immigrants and to implement joint EU border control measures.
FR 19.05.06 // Focus 22.05.06 // International Herald Tribune 25.05.06 // NZZ 26.05.06 // Die Welt 31.05.06 // SZ 31.05.06

OECD publishes new evaluation report on the international PISA study in 2003

On 15 May 2006, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) presented a special report to evaluate the data collected within the PISA study conducted in 2003. According to the report, the German school system shows strong deficits as regards support, education and integration of children of foreigners. Core findings comprised: a high proportion of immigrants does not necessarily deteriorate the performance levels at schools, as the performance of migrant children revealed in classical countries of immigration such as Australia and Canada. Moreover, immigrant children in Germany show the same learning dispositions as their native peers - compared to other states, however, they show particularly high performance deficits. In states having a longer tradition of established language support programmes with clearly defined targets, the performance backlog is relatively low. According to the study, model countries are Australia, Canada and Sweden. According to the OECD education researcher Andreas Schleicher, one of the reasons for the results obtained in Germany can be attributed to the early allocation of students to the different German school types divided into grammar, intermediate and secondary general school levels. Education minister, Ms Schavan, admitted that the finding showed "how much too late Germany had taken actions".
FAZ 16.05.06 // SZ 16.05.06 // Der Tagesspiegel (online) 16.05.06 // FR 16.05.06 // Rheinische Post (online) 16.05.06 // Die Tageszeitung 17.05.06 // Die Zeit 18.05.06

Conference of the Interior Ministers adopts Germany-wide standards for naturalisations

On the occasion of a conference held on 4 and 5 May 2006 in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, the German interior ministers agreed on common standards on naturalisations to be applied throughout Germany. In future, only those persons are to be granted the German nationality who, in addition to a minimum legal and ongoing stay, are able to prove German language skills in an oral and written exam. The concept for naturalisation courses, which are to impart basic knowledge on the principles and values of the German constitution, will be prepared by the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF). However, each federal state itself will be charge of the implementation of the courses offered. In addition, it is also foreseen to demand a declaration of belief in the German Basic Law under oath, a regular cross-checking with the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution as well as a questioning of the applicant for naturalisation on his or her membership in or support activities for extremist organisations or organisations influenced by extremists. The integration commissioner of the federal government, Maria Böhmer (CDU), welcomed the agreement of the ministers of the interior. The Greens, the Left Party and the Turkish community in Germany, however, sharply criticised the new provisions foreseen. The chairman of the Turkish community, Kenan Kolat, said that the resolutions of the interior ministers would be a sign that migrants are not welcome in Germany. He expressed concerns that the number of naturalisations, which has been declining for years, could further decrease. Moreover, the SPD parliamentary group is opposed to it and the MoPs of the SPD are not willing to accept the decisions without alterations. Among other details, it was criticised that the criminal record of a foreigner who was sentenced to pay a fine of 90 daily rates would already be sufficient to impede his or her naturalisation. Moreover, rules of exception for elderly immigrants needed to be foreseen. The Social Democrats insist on the introduction of an "overall package of integration policy measures" that should not only consist of legal sanctions against foreigners. "We will face considerable problems, if we do not talk about provisions on residence rights in this context as well", said the SPD expert for interior affairs, Dieter Wiefelspütz.
Press release of the Bavarian State Ministry of the Interior 11/2006 05.05.06 // BZ 06.05.06 // taz 06.05.06 // SZ 22.05.06 // FR 27.05.06

The spokesman of the former government, Heye, and the Africa Council trigger off debate on safety of foreigners in Germany

On the occasion of the football World Cup, the spokesman of the former government, Uwe-Karsten Heye, warned visitors with a "foreign appearance" to travel to some regions in Germany. There would be small and mid-sized towns in the federal state of Brandenburg and elsewhere where he would advise anyone with a different skin colour not to go. They might not make it out alive. At the same time he added that his intention was not to stigmatise individual federal states such as Brandenburg or to ignore the measures that would be taken against right-wing activities. Heye"s remarks on no-go areas triggered off a debate within the grand coalition. In contrast to the chairman of the Interior Committee of the Federal Parliament, Sebastian Edathy (SPD), who considered the remarks as "comprehensible", Reinhard Grindel (CDU) considered them as irresponsible travel warnings that would damage the reputation of entire regions without making any distinction. The Africa Council announced to publish a risk catalogue for Berlin. Following the talks held with Berlin"s Senator of the Interior, Erhart Körting (SPD), the Africa Council, however, no longer wants to publish a list of "no-go areas" as originally planned and will only prepare guidelines of conduct for migrants in specific regions.
NN 03.05.06 // Die Welt 18.05.06 // Die Welt 19.05.06 // FR 19.05.06 // BZ 26.05.06

Long custody terms to secure deportations criticised

Refugee initiatives of churches and welfare associations criticised the long terms of custody to secure deportations to which undocumented refugees are subjected to in Berlin (in the district of Köpenick) and Munich (in Stadelheim). At Köpenick, persons would be detained to often and for terms too long. Since 2001, for instance, the average prison terms have increased from 17 to up to 50 days. In the detention centre of Stadelheim, the number of inmates facing deportation would constantly range between 45 and 130. Most of the detainees would be subjected to the same restrictions as criminal inmates are: no access to telephones to talk to lawyers or family members, one hour of yard exercises per day, in most cases only one or two hours of visiting times per month; and every night, the lights are switched off at 10 p.m. According to an estimation of the refugee service of the Jesuits, 20,000 to 30,000 refugees would be taken into custody to secure deportation in Germany every year. Barbara Lochbichler, secretary-general of amnesty international, considered it completely unacceptable that particularly vulnerable persons such as minors, pregnant women and single parents would be still taken into custody.
BZ 17.05.06 // SZ 19.05.06

Burkha-wearing female school students in Bonn trigger off debate on school uniforms

On the first school day after the Easter holidays, on 24 April 2006, two 18-years old female students in grade 11 of the Bertholt-Brecht comprehensive school in Bonn, who previously had been considered as well-integrated, went to class wearing Burkhas. On 27 April 2006, the school"s headmaster, Ulrich Stahnke, decided to suspend the two women from school attendance for a term of two weeks. It was said that a regular teaching of classes was no longer possible due to the fact that the veiled women had caused fears among the other school students. Moreover, it was argued that during exams it could no longer be proved who really was behind the veil. The initial suspicion that the two young women had been influenced in their decision by the disputed King-Fahd-Academy in Bonn or by their parents, turned out not to be true. Meanwhile, the conflict could be solved as one of the students left the school and the other one will attend classes in future without wearing a Burkha. On federal level, the case triggered off a debate on the possibility to introduce school uniforms. The federal minister of justice, Brigitte Zypries (SPD), for instance, is of the opinion that uniform clothes of students could foster also the integration of children of immigrant families. Even though most of the federal states carefully signalled that they were in principle in favour of a possible introduction of school uniforms on a voluntary basis at individual schools, it was questioned if this would be a way to prohibit the wearing of Burkhas that way. Christian Boerger, press officer of the Hessian ministry of education, for instance, said: "From a legal point of view, the obligation to wear school uniforms does not regulate what has to be worn from the collar above".
SZ 29.04.06 // BZ 09.05.06 // NZ 09.05.06 // FAZ 10.05.06 // FR 10.05.06 // SZ 10.05.06

Bavaria: Minister of the interior announces set-up of hardship commission

On 15 May 2006, the minister of the interior, Günther Beckstein (CSU), announced the forthcoming establishment of a hardship commission for rejected asylum applicants in Bavaria. The body is to check if in individual cases resident titles could be granted on humanitarian grounds. The welfare organisations Caritas and Diakonisches Werk in Bavaria welcomed the decision.
SZ 15.05.06 // SZ 16.05.06 // SZ 17.05.06

Growing distance to foreigners

According to a poll conducted by the Forschungsgruppe Wahlen (research group on elections), the distance between German citizens and foreign nationals in Germany has been growing considerably over the past years: compared to 33 per cent of the Germans who nearly five years ago were of the opinion that the foreigners living in Germany would pose a "threat of foreign infiltration", this opinion is shared by 54 per cent today. Of the total of 1,194 interviewed German citizens, only 38 per cent are still of the opinion that foreigners constitute a "culturally valuable addition". Sixty-three per cent of the Germans consider right-wing extremism a threat to our democracy, while 35 per cent do not consider it a risk. At the same time, a clear majority of 67 per cent criticises that it would not be done enough to fight right-wing extremism in Germany. On the other hand, 26 per cent of the German citizens are of the opinion that the activities currently undertaken against right-wing extremism would be sufficient.
SZ 29.04.06

Tolerance towards Islam is diminishing

According to a poll carried out by the Institut für Demoskopie Allensbach (Institute for opinion research), 56 per cent of the German citizens are of the opinion that a "battle of cultures" has begun between Christianity and Islam. Only 25 per cent share a contrary opinion. In late summer 2004, the ratio was still at 46 to 34 per cent. "Against the background of an unclear feeling of being threatened, and the suspected intolerance of the Islam, the willingness of the Germans themselves to be tolerant towards the Muslim belief is diminishing", the opinion researchers found out. Of the 2,000 German citizens interviewed, 56 per cent were in favour of a ban on building mosques in Germany, if on the other hand no churches could be built in some Islamic countries.
FAZ 17.05.06 // NN 18.05.06 // NZ 18.05.06

Annual report 2005 of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution

On 22 May 2006, federal interior minister Wolfgang Schäuble presented the annual report 2005 of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution. According to the report, Germany is still threatened by Islamist terrorism and forms part of a global area of danger. The fighting against right-wing extremism remains to be a central task of the security services. Overall, a slight decrease in the number of right-wing oriented persons could be observed; in contrast, however, a further increase in the number of persons sharing neo-Nazi thoughts and a rise in the number of skinhead concerts were recorded.
Press release of the BMI 22.05.06

North Rhine-Westphalia: Study in North Rhine-Westphalia proves the importance of religion to immigrants

For many immigrants and their family members, religion is an important part of their identity. This is the result of a study titled "What does North Rhine-Westphalia believe", for which 230 religious communities and movements were registered and which was presented in Düsseldorf on 30 May 2006. The study revealed that about 43 per cent of the immigrants are actively involved in religious groups. This would be more than twice the people belonging to the two large Christian churches, which would be actively supported only by 15 to 20 per cent of their members. With around one million persons or 37 per cent, Muslims constitute the largest group among the immigrants. However, only half of them would be actively involved in religious groups such as mosque communities. Accordingly, about the same number of Muslims would have no social and political representation. Compared to Muslims, the degree of being organised in groups is higher among immigrated Catholics. With 17 per cent, they represent the second largest group among immigrants; 80 per cent of them are actively involved in their Church. In contrast, immigrants of Protestant belief, with 11 per cent ranking third in the study, would be hardly organised in religious communities (20 per cent).
FAZ 31.05.06

Federal Constitutional Court: Constitutional complaint against withdrawing of nationality following naturalisation based on deceived information not successful

Following the decision of the Federal Constitutional Court (BVerfG) on 24 May 2006 ruling that a passport obtained on the basis of deceived information can be withdrawn even in case the person affected would be threatened by becoming stateless, the federal government feels backed in its position. According to the court, the prohibition to deprive the citizenship of a German national established by the German Basic Law does not apply in case of fraud (Ref: 2 BvR 669/04). However, there have been not many deprivations of citizenships so far: compared to the number of around 420,000 foreigners who were naturalised since 2000, there are only 84 cases in which German passports have been withdrawn due to deceived information.
Press release of BVerfG No.41/2006 24.05.06 // Der Spiegel (online) 24.05.06 // FAZ 26.05.06

Asylum statistics

In May 2006, a total of 1,693 persons have submitted a petition for political asylum in Germany. The figure constitutes an increase of 12.9 per cent (+193 persons) compared to April 2006. Compared to May 2005, the number of asylum seekers has declined by 19.6 per cent (-414 persons). The main countries of origin in May 2006 were Serbia and Montenegro (277), Turkey (181) and Iraq (117) followed by Vietnam (96) and the Russian Federation (64). In May 2006, the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees has reviewed the petitions of 2,666 asylum seekers, 23 (0.9 per cent) of whom have been recognised as entitled to political asylum. A further 67 persons (2.5 per cent) have been granted protection against deportation according to §60, paragraph 1, Residence Act. The applications of 1,554 persons (58.3 per cent) have been rejected. The cases of another 1,022 persons (38.3 per cent) have been closed for other reasons, for example because applicants have withdrawn their petitions.
Press release BMI of 07.06.06

May 2006

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