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efms Migration Report

March 2005

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EU-Commission supports limited migration inflows of foreign labour in the medium term

In ist "Green book for demographic change", which was adopted on 17th March 2005, the EU Commission points out that the European Union needs an additional workforce of approximately 20 million people until the year 2030. In order to counteract a continuously ageing society, EU Social Commissioner Mr. Spidla has proposed several measures that include family benefits, parental leave or all-day child-care, but also limited migration inflows of foreign labour to supplement the European labour market.
Die Welt 17.03.05

Ruling by European Court of Justice: Students from EU member states are entitled to receive student loans in other EU member states

In a ruling by the European Court of Justice (EuGH) published on 15th March 2003, the court has referred to the principle of European Union Citizenship in its decision that European students are entitled to receive student loans in other EU member states. The underlying appeal had been lodged by a French student who has been living in the UK for nine years and who has unsuccessfully applied for a British government loan to cover his living expenses as a student. The ruling will probably also have an effect on Germany"s Bafög regulations for student grants and student loans. The latter will probably be introduced shortly by several German States together with the planned university fees.
SZ 16.03.05

Number of foreign residents living in Germany lower than previously estimated

Several of the key data on the number of non-German residents living in Germany have been found to be incorrect. As outlined in the latest statistics published by the Central Register for Foreign Residents (AZR) in Nuremberg, the actual number of non-German residents amounts to 6.7 million people, i.e. there are 700,000 fewer non-German residents than had previously been estimated. The Federal Ministry of the Interior has confirmed that the data "need to be adjusted to a considerable extent". The ministry has also stressed that the state governments have been mainly responsible for the inaccurate data, above all the states of Bavaria and North-Rhine Westphalia, which have failed to update their statistics on foreign residents on a regular basis.
Handelsblatt 09.03.05 // FR 10.03.05 // Handelsblatt 10.03.05 // Der Spiegel 26.03.05

New developments in "visa affair"

In the parliamentary panel investigating the so-called "visa affair", opposition parties have set out to determine the extent to which the visa policy of the Federal Ministry for Foreign Affairs (AA) has aided and abetted illegal human smuggling and widespread visa abuse. Opposition parties have also accused foreign minister Joschka Fischer (Greens) of ignoring internal criticism and warnings about the visa practice by several German embassies, and of having issued a directive interdicting a cooperation of the German embassies concerned with the Federal Bureau for Criminal Investigation (BKA) and the Federal Border Guard (BGS). In addition, the opposition wants to determine whether Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and Federal Interior Minister Otto Schily were somehow involved in the irregularities. Meanwhile, it has become known that the responsible department within the Federal Ministry of the Interior had already pointed out in March 2000 that the so-called "Volmer Directive" on issuing visas "did not conform" to the regulations of the Schengen Treaty. The ensuing conflict on the relaxed visa requirements between the interior ministry and the ministry of foreign affairs has supposedly been settled after an intervention by the Office of the Chancellor. The relaxed visa requirements have also played a role, though a differing one, in two trials on human smuggling. A Ukrainian couple, which had criminally conspired to obtain 84 visas from the German embassy in Kiev, has been sentenced to long prison terms by a regional court in Hof (Bavaria). A German-Ukranian accused of human smuggling, on the other hand, has only been cautioned by a local court in Cologne on 17th March 2005. In its ruling, the court has pointed out that the defendant, in obtaining 57 tourists visas for Ukrainians seeking work in Germany had committed "a criminal offence on the interface between freedom and security".
BZ 03.03.05 // Die Welt 04.03.05 // Die Welt 05.03.05 // BZ 08.03.05 // SZ 10.03.05 // NN 11.03.05 // FR 18.03.05 // Die Welt 23.03.05 // BZ 24.03.05 // SZ 31.03.05

BAMF: Successful start for integration courses

In a statement published on 3rd March 2005, The Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) has provided the latest information on integration courses: Since 1st January 2005, a total of 756 integration courses has been launched. 24,000 non-German residents and 6,900 ethnic German immigrants (Spätaussiedler) have so far been allowed to participate. Two months after the new Immigration Act took effect, 41,000 people have already been granted an entitlement to participate in the courses. According to Albert Schmid, President of the Federal Office, the new Immigration Act has "passed its first practical test with flying colours". Contrary to all the previous negative expectations, the transition from the old inhomogeneous language course system to the standardised integration courses has been successful.
Pressemitteilung BAMF 03.03.05 // dpa 03.03.05

Symposium on illegal migration

The first symposium focussing on illegal immigration was held in Berlin on 2nd March 2005, jointly organised by the Catholic Forum "Living in Illegality" and the Council of Migration. The conference was opened by Wolfgang Thierse (SPD), the President of the Federal Parliament. The 372 participants, representing various political parties, the judiciary and several social organisations, have signed a "manifesto on illegal immigration - for a differentiated and solution-oriented debate". The manifesto demands that illegal immigrants are granted access to health care, gainful employment and school education for their children. In addition, it objects to the criminalisation of those who provide emergency help and support to illegal immigrants. Suffragan Bishop Josef Voß, chairman of the migration commission of the German Conference of Bishops, has called on legislators to amend the Immigration Act to that end.
SZ 02.03.05 // FAZ 03.03.05 // SZ 03.03.05 // NN 03.03.05 // BZ 03.03.05 // FR 03.03.05 // FAZ 04.03.05

Baden-Wurttemberg: Islamic religious instruction starts in 2006

In the context of a model project, Muslim pupils will be offered Islamic religious instruction at twelve primary schools in Baden Wurttemberg, starting in the school year 2006/07. The decision was taken on 15th March 2005 by the state government cabinet in Stuttgart led by Premier Erwin Teufel (CDU).
SZ 15.03.05 // SZ 16.03.05 // FAZ 16.03.05

Hamburg Senate raises hopes for residence entitlement for refugee children

Hamburg"s CDU-led Senate (state parliament) announced on 29th March 2005 that migrant children having arrived in the Hanseatic city without a visa will be spared from deportation "under certain conditions". The 40 or more boys and girls, who had been brought into the country by their families, are to be granted residence entitlements. In doing so, the state parliament makes use of the regulations in the new Immigration Act, which took effect on 1st January 2005. According to the new regulations, migrants can be granted residence entitlements for humanitarian reasons if all other legal possibilities have been exhausted.
taz Hamburg 30.03.05

Hertie Foundation expands "Start" scholarship programme

The scholarship programme "Start", endowed by the non-profit Hertie Foundation, is currently providing financial support to 132 gifted non-German pupils from 32 different countries. Until 2007, this number is to be increased to 350 scholarships. The foundation has allotted an additional € 3.8 million in order to achieve this goal. Furthermore, the Hertie Foundation plans to cooperate with other foundations, state and municipal governments as well as private citizens in order to initiate a broad alliance for integrating and fostering non-German children.
FAZ 10.03.05 // SZ 14.03.05

Right-wing extremism in Saxony, Brandenburg and Berlin

According to the victim-support organisation AMAL, the actual number of violent xenophobic offences committed in Saxony in 2004 was higher than the number of cases registered in the official statistics. Whereas Saxony"s interior ministry has only registered 17 cases for the year 2004, AMAL estimates that the actual number of offences has been as high as 141 cases involving 200 victims. On 23rd March 2005, a public opinion study on right-wing extremism was published by the opinion research centre Forsa, the Paul-Lazarsfeld Society and the Free University of Berlin. According to the study, 6% of the residents of Berlin, and 12% of the residents of Brandenburg have a right-wing extremist world view.
BZ 22.03.05 // FR 24.03.05 // Die Welt 24.03.05 // BZ 24.03.05

Tightened assembly- and criminal-law regulations against neo-Nazis

The two chambers of the federal parliament, the Bundestag and the Bundesrat, have passed amendments tightening assembly and criminal-law regulations with an overwhelming majority. The new regulations can already be applied on 8th May 2005, the sixtieth anniversary of the end of World War II, when the right-wing party NPD is planning to stage a demonstration march at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. The new regulations enable authorities to ban assemblies at historically significant and memorial places, such as former concentration camps, if such demonstrations infringe on the dignity of victims of Nazism. The amendment also explicitly mentions the Holocaust memorial in Berlin. State legislatures will be entitled to designate further memorial places as protected areas. The tightened regulations are aimed at efforts by right-wing extremists to stage demonstrations at historically significant places. People who publicly approve of, justify or glorify National-Socialist tyranny and despotism will face fines or prison sentences of up to three years. The Berlin Senate, the state legislature, is also planning to organise a "democracy festival" at the Brandenburg Gate on 8th May 2005, in order to spearhead a nation-wide alliance of initiatives, politicians, religious organisations and trade unions that have been demonstrating for weeks against the planned NPD march.
Die Welt 08.03.05 // SZ 09.03.05 // Informationen des BMI 15.03.05 // NZ 23.03.05 // NN 20.02.05

Trials against neo-Nazis

The Brandenburg Higher Regional Court has, for the first time in Germany in fifteen years, classified a neo-Nazi organisation as a terrorist organisation. On 7th March 2005, the court sentenced twelve young men, all of them members of the so-called "Havellaender Group", to prison terms between eight months and four-and-a-half years. The convicted men have set fire to ten takeaways and restaurants managed by Turkish or Vietnamese residents. Almuth Berger, Brandenburg"s state government commissioner for foreign-resident affairs, has announced the publication of a brochure entitled "Targeting takeaways" as a protest against the arson attacks. Meanwhile, the Federal Court of Justice has classified the rightwing-extremist rock band "Landser" as a criminal organisation, sentencing the band leader Michael Regener to a prison sentence of four months.
Der Spiegel 07.03.05 // SZ 08.03.05 // BZ 08.03.05 // BZ 09.03.05 // NN 11.03.05

Nationwide school project against anti-Semitism

Eleven schools from the states of Brandenburg, Berlin and Saxony are participating in the new nationwide project "Youth leaders against anti-Semitism". The project, which was presented on 8th March 2005, is jointly organised by the Friedrich-Ebert Foundation, the American Jewish Committee, the Centre for Anti-Semitism Research and the Berlin State Institute for School and Media. In accordance with similar projects in the USA, the project will train six to eight selected eight- or ninth-form pupils from each participating school over two years in how to confront anti-Semitic tendencies actively and confidently.
BZ 09.03.05

Falling numbers of asylum seekers in industrialised countries

The number of asylum seekers in industrialised countries has been decreasing. According to the UN Refugee Agency, the number of officially registered asylum seekers in 50 selected countries has fallen to its lowest level since 1988. Among the receiving countries, Germany, with 35,600 asylum petitions (a one-third decrease over the previous year), ranked fourth among industrialised countries, following France, the US and the UK. The UN Refugee Agency has pointed out that two developments are responsible for the decrease: For one thing, fewer refugees have arrived from areas of conflict such as the Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq. For another, many industrialised countries have tightened their immigration rules. The ten new EU members, which joined the European Union in 2004, have been the only countries bucking the trend, with a four-percent increase in asylum petitions. This increase can be explained, first and foremost, by the influx of refugees from Chechnya, who mostly apply for asylum in Eastern European countries.
Handelsblatt 02.03.05 // NZ 02.03.05

Asylum statistics

In March 2005, a total of 2,223 persons submitted a petition for political asylum in Germany. The figure constitutes an increase by 5.8% (+122 persons) over the previous month, but a decrease by 34.8% (-1,188 persons) over March 2004. Similar to the preceding month, applicants" main countries of origin in March 2005 were Serbia and Montenegro (417), Turkey (252) and the Russian Federation (125), followed by Iraq (123) and Vietnam (94). The Federal Office for Migration and Refugees reviewed the cases of 4,188 persons in March 2005, 31 (0.7%) of whom were been recognised as entitled to political asylum. A further 194 persons (4.6%) were granted protection against deportation according to §60 Par. 1 Residence Act. The petitions of 2,364 persons (56.5%) have been rejected. In addition, the cases of a further 1,599 persons (38.2%) have been closed for other reasons, for example because applicants have withdrawn their petition.
Pressemitteilung BMI 08.04.05

March 2005

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