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efms Migration Report

March 2006

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European interior ministers plan further migration and integration measures

On the occasion of a meeting on 22 - 23 March 2006 in Heiligendamm (Germany), the interior ministers of France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain and Great Britain agreed on the implementation of concrete measures for promoting integration and combating illegal immigration. They agreed on an intensive exchange of information about integration programmes and prerequisites as well as on setting-up an expert group to analyse the possibility of integration contracts with immigrants or comparable instruments. Moreover, the ministers decided to enter into a dialogue with the Muslim community, to establish joint investigative teams to combat smuggling and trafficking of human beings, to share a common list of safe countries of origin and to introduce the Visa Information System (VIS). They agreed on intensifying the operational cooperation to combat illegal immigration and on improving the cooperation with African countries of origin and transit. For that purpose, it is planned to establish regional immigration networks in African regions, Asia, Eastern and Southern Europe. The German federal minister of the interior, Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU), said that there might be the possibility to grant a right of residence to refugees who have been living for many years in Germany, which could be decided by autumn. Günter Burkhardt, managing director of Pro Asyl, criticised that such decision would have to be taken by this summer already and added that federal states and aliens" authorities would "heavily try to push people out of the country". Currently, about 193,000 persons would be tolerated in Germany, of which a total of 120,580 have been living for more than five years in the country.
BMI Press release 23.03.06 // dpa 23.03.06 // FAZ 24.03.06 // Federal Government (online) 24.03.06 // NN 24.03.06

Deportation agreement with Poland

Germany and Poland have signed an agreement intended to facilitate the deportation of foreign nationals. The federal minister of the interior, Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU) and his Polish counterpart, Ludwik Dorn, signed the agreement on 23 March 2006 in Heiligendamm (Germany) on the fringes of the meeting of the interior ministers of the largest EU Member States. The so-called transit agreement is to facilitate the joint deportation, for instance from Warsaw, of third-country nationals.
dpa 23.03.06

European Council for Refugees and Exiles criticises misery of refugee children

The European Council for Refugees and Exiles (ECRE), umbrella organisation of 76 refugee organisations, has criticised that refugee children under age would suffer from extraordinary hardships in Europe. Children travelling unaccompanied frequently would be informed insufficiently on the existing family reunification opportunities after having filed an asylum application. Therefore, ECRE has made a call to the EU Member States to actively support children in their search for relatives. The provision foreseeing that always the EU Member State in which the initial asylum application has been filed is in charge of an applicant had "an extremely cruel impact" on children having entered a country unaccompanied, and for their families.
FR 17.03.06

UNMIK returns refugees

On 18 March 2006, the "United Nations Interim Administration in Kosovo" (UNMIK) again returned refugees who had been deported from Germany. Already before the deportation UNMIK had informed the authorities in Berlin that an admission of the persons concerned would be impossible for humanitarian grounds. The Aliens" Authority, however, had insisted on implementing the deportations.
taz 22.03.06

Naturalisations: Union parties in favour of Germany-wide standards based on the model in Hesse

On 14 March 2006, the CDU government of the federal state of Hesse presented a concept on naturalisation that foresees six requirements to be fulfilled: a minimum time of residence in Germany of eight years, sufficient German language skills, completion of an naturalisation course including a final test on contents and values, no involvement in anti-constitutional activities, a declaration of loyalty and the swearing of an oath. The draft for a guide on "knowledge about and values in Germany and Europe" presented by interior minister Bouffier (CDU) contains one hundred questions on different topics such as German geography and history, the constitution and basic rights in Germany. Federal chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU), federal interior minister Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU) and the integration commissioner of the federal government, Maria Böhmer (CDU) expressed themselves in favour of German-wide standards, which could be decided about on the occasion of the conference of interior ministers to be held at the beginning of May. Federal interior minister Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU) said that the introduction of corresponding federal laws could be possible as well. So far, the parties of SPD and FDP have rejected in their majority the plans of the Union parties. Against the background of the this opposition, the Union parties expect having to find compromises. "There will be no one hundred per cent agreement with the federal states governed by SPD", said the interior minister of Bavaria, Günther Beckstein (CSU). An agreement on subjects like language courses and loyalty to the constitution, however, could be possible.
taz 14.03.06 // FAZ 15.03.06 // BZ 17.03.06 // Die Welt 17.03.06 // Handelsblatt 20.03.06

Baden-Württemberg: Max-Planck-Institute considers interview guide contrary to international law

The Max-Planck-Institute for foreign public law and international law has classified the interview guide of the local government of the federal state of Baden-Württemberg as "contrary to international law" as it would violate the Convention against Racial Discrimination of the United Nations. Beate Weber (SPD), the Lord Mayor of the city of Heidelberg who had commissioned the expertise, feels backed in her position classifying the corresponding ordinance as unlawful. Interior minister Herbert Recht (CDU), who was asked to comment the expertise, said that he would carefully review it, but would not see any reason for withdrawing the interview guide from being used by the authorities in charge of naturalisations.
Press release of the ministry of the interior of Baden-Württemberg 14.03.06 // Press release of the city of Heidelberg 15.03.06 // FR 16.03.06

Immigration Act: Evaluation by June 2006

In accordance with the stipulations of the coalition agreement entered into, the federal government has begun to evaluate the Immigration Act: This evaluation is to provide a decision on the residence status of approximately 150,000 tolerated refugees and to facilitate the immigration of highly-skilled persons. At first, the Immigration Act will be revised internally by a working group. Politicians of both the SPD and CDU parties intend to facilitate the immigration of highly-skilled persons. It was criticized that compared to the annual average of 2,200 IT experts and top scientists coming to Germany in the years 2000 to 2004 by making use of the German Green Card scheme, the number dropped to 900 since the entering into force of the Immigration Act on 1 January 2005. The SPD expert for interior affairs, Dieter Wiefelspütz, said that it would be necessary to automatically grant work permits to spouses and family members of highly-skilled persons in order to make more highly-skilled experts come to Germany. In addition, he expressed himself in favour of granting a lasting right of residence and subsequent naturalisations and made a call for "substantially reducing" bureaucracy when examining applications for residence titles.
Die Welt 03.03.06 // dpa (online) 03.03.06 // Hamburger Abendblatt (online) 04.03.06 // dpa 30.03.06

Integration courses: First outcomes and cutback in expenditures

According to the federal government in its reply (16/639, 16/725) to two almost similar "small inquiries" made by the parliamentary groups of the "Die Linke" (The Left Party) and Bündnis 90/Die Grünen (Alliance 90/Greens), a total of 64,120 newly immigrated aliens were obliged to participate in an integration course and 8,196 integration courses were started in the year 2005. A total of 60,934 of new immigrants were given permission to attend an integration course. In 2005, 126,959 persons applied for an integration course, of which 121,476 applications were granted. As regards the outcomes of the integration courses for aliens, which are compulsory since 1 January 2005, the integration commissioner of the federal government, Maria Böhmer (CDU), draws differentiated conclusions: Even though she said that the offerings and the interest shown in them were satisfactorily, she criticised the quality of the courses, arguing that the courses would have to be more differentiated in terms of achievement levels and educational background and that they should be stronger related to occupational matters. Moreover, she criticised the high number of "low cost service providers" had a negative impact on the course quality. On the other hand, federal interior minister Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU) plans to cut the 2006 expenditures from 206 million originally foreseen to 141 million euros, saying that the number of immigrants being for the first time entitled to take integration courses pursuant the new Immigration Act would be lower than originally expected. Of the 208 million euros provided by the federal government in 2005, only 80 millions would have been spent. The announcement of these plans was sharply criticised by the parties of SPD, FDP and Greens. The migration expert of the SPD, Ms. Lale Akgün, argued that the past year could not be used as a reference. As the area of integration would currently undergo a restructuring, it would be normal that funds were requested only slowly. This, however, would not mean that these funds were not urgently needed.
Deutscher Bundestag (Federal parliament) (online) 01.03.06 // taz 10.03.06 // FR 11.03.06 // Handelsblatt 20.03.06 // Stern (online) 21.03.06 // NN 22.03.06

Germany-wide school study reveals that migrant children learn English easier

For the study called "German English Student Achievements International" (in its German abbreviation "DESI"), about 11,000 school students in grade 9 of all school types were tested in all federal states at the beginning and at the end of the school year 2003/04. The study had been commissioned by the Conference of Ministers of Education (KMK) already before the PISA study 2001 and was implemented by the German Institute for International Educational Research (in German "DIPF"). One of the findings was that children of migrants have advantages in learning English, which could be used in better way. Students, who have already learned German as foreign language have less difficulties in learning English. According to DESI, children who are raised in a multi-lingual family - with the other learning conditions being comparable - have a "competitive advantage" of at least half a year over children speaking only German.
BZ 04.03.06

"Childrens" barometer": Every third child wishes to emigrate

According to a survey among 2,300 children living in North Rhine-Westphalia, almost every third child wants to leave Germany at a later time in the future. According to the survey of the Westdeutsche Landesbausparkasse (Western German building society) called "Kinderbarometer" (Childrens" barometer), the destination of dreams of 17 per cent of the children aged between 9 and 14 is another country in Western Europe. Six per cent of the children would like to go to North America, and four per cent to Turkey. The survey showed that the older children are, the stronger the desire of moving to another country. Almost half of the children of immigrants said they would like to leave Germany further on in the future.
Die Welt 03.03.06

UNHCR: Number of asylum applications at record low

According to a report of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) published on 17 March 2006, the number of persons having sought asylum in 50 industrialized countries has almost halved since 1991. Therefore, the UNHCR has made a call to the governments to ease the strict conditions of admission and to give back opportunities to real refugees. In the 38 industrialized countries keeping detailed statistics (besides the European states also the US, Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and South Korea), the number of refugees in 2005 was 15 per cent lower than in 2004. Only 331,600 persons applied for asylum, which constitutes the lowest number since 1987. The decrease was particularly strong in Great Britain, Denmark and Germany. In 2005, the highest number of refugees arrived in France (50,000), followed by the US (48,800), Great Britain (30,500) and Germany (28,900). Compared to the number of inhabitants, Cyprus, Austria and Norway, followed by Sweden and Switzerland, admitted the highest numbers of refugees over the last five years.
FR 18.03.06

Every third alien in Germany has been living in the country for more than 20 years

According to the information of the Federal Statistical Office published on 28 March 2006, more than one third of the 6.76 million aliens in Germany has been living here for more than 20 years. About 4.6 million persons have been living in the Federal Republic of Germany for at least eight years and could hence apply for the German citizenship. In 2005, the Central Aliens" Register (in German "AZR") registered 0.5 per cent more (+38,000) persons than in the previous year. This meant that the number of citizens possessing a foreign nationality remained almost unchanged compared to 2004. 1.4 million (21 per cent) of the aliens living permanently in Germany were born in the country. In 2004, 127,000 foreign nationals were granted the German citizenship. Above-average growth rates were registered for the following countries of origin: Lithuania (15 per cent), Poland (12 per cent), Taiwan (9 per cent), Brazil (8 per cent) and Japan (6 per cent). Considerable declines of 5 per cent each were registered for persons coming from Iran, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan.
dpa 28.03.06

Asylum statistics

In March 2006, a total of 2,140 persons have submitted a petition for political asylum in Germany. The figure constitutes an increase of 20.3 per cent (+361 persons) compared to February 2006. Compared to March 2005, the number of asylum seekers has declined by 3.7 per cent (-83 persons). The main countries of origin in March 2006 were Serbia and Montenegro (353), Iraq (225) and Turkey (209) followed by the Russian Federation (100) and Vietnam (94). In March 2006, the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees has reviewed the applications of 2,957 asylum seekers, 27 (0.9 per cent) of whom have been recognised as entitled to political asylum. A further 95 persons (3.2 per cent) have been granted protection against deportation according to §60, paragraph 1, Residence Act. The applications of 1,781 persons (60.2 per cent) have been rejected. The cases of another 1,054 persons (35.7 per cent) have been closed for other reasons, for example because asylum seekers have withdrawn their applications.
Press release BMI of 08.04.06

March 2006

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