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efms Migration Report

March 1998

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Study group "Asylum in the Church" takes stock

According to data released by the ecumenical study group "Asylum in the Church" (BAG), 344 persons found refuge in parishes or monasteries last year. This is 40 more than in 1996. The number of newly opened "church asylums" also rose in the period 1966/1997 from 43 to 59. Through church asylum 119 refugees were protected from deportation. The BAG secretary, Martin Rapp, emphasized however that churches were limited in the extent to which they could provide refugee assistance. More and more frequently church asylum was being ended either by use of police force or by refugees dropping out of sight because of a lack of prospects.
FR 2.3.98

Federal government unwilling to recognize specific asylum rights for women

An Alliance 90-Green Party bill to broaden asylum legislation to include special protective regulations for women was voted down in the Bundestag. The parliamentarian secretary of state in the interior ministry, Eduard Lintner, defended the government"s position pointing out that the protection for women provided by German law was sufficient and one of the most generous in the world. Broadening asylum law would, in Lintner"s words, " lead to an unforeseeable number of obligations to admit (refugees)". "zahlenmäßig unabsehbaren Aufnahmeverpflichtungen führen".
dpa 5.3.98

Police want to combat immigrant smuggling with under-cover investigators

In view of the numerous recent arrests of immigrants smuggled into Germany from Afghanistan and former Yugoslavia, the Central Franconian police want to immediately begin using undercover investigators to combat immigrant smuggling. The director of the Central-Franconian department for organized crime, Werner Mikulasch, said that the authorities would be powerless if they did not take this step. The undercover investigators are also to be employed abroad, since the Czech cities Prague and Pilsen are, in Mikulasch"s view, "the bridgeheads of immigrant smuggling".
NZ 5.3.98 // SZ 5.3.98 // SZ 11.3.98

BND: Italian mafia smuggles immigrants to Germany

A situation report of the Federal Intelligence Service (BND) addressed to the federal government demonstrates that the smuggling of refugees into Germany has become a "significant area of criminal activity for the Italian mafia". According to BND data, up to 800 persons are smuggled per month from Italy to Germany whereby "intensive cooperation with a division of labor" can be observed. While one group oversees the transport of refugees to Italy, another paves the way for the continuation of the trip from Italy to Germany.
Welt 10.3.98

Schlee: 8,000 Bosnian refugees have left Germany this year

Dietmar Schlee, the Federal Governement Commissioner for the Return of Refugees reports that over 8,000 Bosnian war refugees have departed from Germany thus far in 1998. Of these, 7,600 returned to Bosnia-Herzegovina voluntarily. Some 400 refugees left Germany for other countries and 100 were deported to Bosnia-Herzegovina. Schlee also said that last year 114,500 Bosnians had returned home or migrated to third countries. At present some 220,000 Bosnian refugees are still residing in Germany.
SZ 12.3.98 // FAZ 12.3.98

Stoiber"s misgivings about Amsterdam Agreement create a stir

Bavaria"s prime minister, Edmund Stoiber, caused a considerable stir when he announced that Bavaria intended to vote against the Amsterdam Agreement in the Bundesrat. Stoiber stated that several questions of competence in immigration policies had not been clearly resolved in the Amsterdam Agreement. Fearing that Germany would not be able to control the immigration of non-EU foreigners, he called on Federal Chancellor Helmut Kohl to clarify according to international law that the powers of decision over the immigration of non-EU aliens would continue to remain in Germany and not be turned over to Brussels. Stoiber finally indicated that he would vote in favor of the Amsterdam Agreement after Kohl reiterated Germany"s position on aliens policies in a letter to the president of the European Council, British Prime Minister Tony Blair. At the end of the month the Bundesrat unanimously ratified the Amsterdam Agreement.
SZ 5.3.98 // FAZ 10.3.98 // NN 11.3.98 // Welt 11.3.98 // FAZ 11.3.98 // Welt 13.3.98 // dpa 15.3.98

Federal and Länder governments reject ban on deportation for Kosovo Albanians

After lengthy discussions, representatives of the federal and Länder interior ministries decided not to issue a general ban on deportation for Kosovo Albanians. However, they assured that each case would be investigated on an individual basis in order to discover any obstacles to deportation. The representatives of the interior ministries based their decision on a situation report of the Foreign Office which believes that the struggle over Kosovo ended on March 8. The report concludes that "even after the recent events in Kosovo, it is not to be expected that official institutions will specifically persecute returning Kosovo Albanians."
dpa 12.3.98 // FAZ 13.3.98 // SZ 13.3.98

SPD wants better protection for under-age refugees

The SPD has introduced a bill which is aimed at providing special protection for under-age refugees who enter Germany without adult escorts or entry papers. The deputy domestic-policy spokeswoman of the SPD parliamentary group, Cornelie Sonntag-Wolgast, explained that parents in crisis-areas often send their children to Germany without papers in order to get them out of harm"s way; in other cases, children are exploited as cheap labor, prostitutes or drug couriers. For this reason, Sonntag-Wolgast argued, German authorities should be urged to first of all find out where the parents of the refugee child are. Then it would be possible to ascertain whether a child is threatened with persecution or punishment in his homeland before a decision regarding a possible deportation is made.
FAZ 14.3.98

München sets up "office for intercultural cooperation"

The city of Munich has made a decision to set up an "office for intercultural cooperation" in November. This agency will belong directly to the mayor"s sphere of responsibility. The new office will combine the functions of the ombudsman for aliens issues who mediates between aliens and city officials in conflict situations and the commissioner for aliens. The "office for intercultural cooperation" will consolidate all of the established positions in alien relations. Its objectives will be to promote integration and reduce social, professional, scholastic and cultural discrimination against foreigners.
SZ 19.3.98

Federal government supports Bundesrat initiative to cut payments to rejected asylum seekers

The federal government supports the amendment of the Asylum-Seeker Benefits Law passed in the Bundesrat according to which rejected asylum seekers and refugees who delay their departures will receive only minimum benefits. The federal minister of health, Horst Seehofer, elaborated on the decision. "We cannot sit by and watch while the illegal behavior of foreigners allows them to claim benefits identical to those paid to aliens who comply with the law." According to his data, some 600,000 foreigners would be affected by the amendment. The amendment has also been discussed in the Bundestag, where leaders of the opposition sharply criticized the proposed cuts. The SPD parliamentary party demands the inclusion of a rule of exception for refugees who are officially tolerated. This would apply in particular to civil war refugees. In the Bundesrat, several SPD-ruled Länder had voted in favor of the amendment. In the days preceding the Bundestag debate, several welfare organizations and human rights groups had criticized the amendment with the motto "starvation policy".
dpa 18.3.98 // FR 19.3.98 // dpa 25.3.98 // Welt 26.3.98 // dpa 26.3.98 // taz 26.3.98

Bonn wants fairer distribution of asylum seekers in the EU by means of fingerprints

According to information of the secretary of state of the department of the interior, Kurt Schelter, the government wants to obtain a more equitable distribution of asylum seekers within the EU member states by broadening the "Eurodac" convention to include illegal migrants. Only in this way could the Dublin Convention again function effectively. According to this convention, the EU state which the asylum seeker has entered is responsible for that person. In Schelter"s opinion the immigrant smuggler organizations had adjusted to the convention and smuggled their "customers" into the country where they wished to make their petition. Only at this point are the fingerprints of the petitioner taken in order to prevent him or her from applying for asylum in the EU a second time. If, on the other hand, the fingerprints of illegal immigrants were taken, it would be possible to ascertain the "true land of arrival" where the asylum proceedings would then have to take place.
FAZ 20.3.98 // FR 20.3.98

Germany and Poland agree to cooperation of border police

The interior ministers of Germany and Poland, Kanther and Tomaszewski, have agreed to strengthen the cooperation of their police forces and border-police officials in order to more effectively combat cross-border criminality and illegal immigration. Future activities are to be concerted and communication structures improved.
FAZ 24.3.98

Reform of citizenship law fails for this legislature period

By virtue of its parliamentary majority, the government coalition was able to defeat a Bundesrat proposal to reform the citizenship law. Thus, in this legislature period there will be no changes to the citizenship law dating from 1913. Only three FDP representatives abstained from voting. The Bundesrat proposal would have made it easier for foreign children born in Germany to acquire German citizenship. The Bundestag debate had been awaited with suspense as a few CDU and many FDP representatives are basically in favor of reforming the citizenship law. However, some weeks earlier several FDP representatives had voted with the SPD against a controversial coalition bill to allow listening in on private citizens and agencies. After this coalition defeat, the vote on amending the citizenship law was turned into a question of principle regarding the continuation of the coalition. Prior to the Bundestag debate, coalition representatatives had stated that there would be no wavering on this issue and that the coalition would demonstrate its capacity for action. The advocates of reform among the coalition parties justified their rejection of the Bundesrat proposal, referring to the coalition contract. FDP Secretary General Guido WEsterwelle said that the decision was difficult for his party. The liberals however were "honourable tradesmen" and thus had complied with the coalition contract. In explaining his vote against the Bundesrat proposal, the CDU representative Norbert Röttgen, who is actually one of the advocates of reform, argued that the SPD had instrumentalized "a subject which was a potential source of conflict for campaign purposes".
SZ 10.3.98 // FAZ 25.3.98 // SZ 25.3.98 // FAZ 28.3.98 // NZZ 28.3.98 // SZ 28.3.98 // NN 28.3.98 // International Herald Tribune 28.3.98 // FR 28.3.98

Kanther and Hintze want to crack down on criminal foreigners

At a CDU forum on internal security the federal interior minister, Manfred Kanther, and the CDU secretary general, Peter Hintze, called for harsher measures against criminal foreigners. Both leaders called for statutory measures which would enable authorities to return foreign offenders to their native countries where they would be punished. Hintze stated that "Anyone breaking the law here forfeits his/her right to remain in Germany and must be deported." Kanther declared that the rising criminality among aliens was one of the most urgent problems in the fight against organized crime. He argued that 62 percent of criminal suspects in the area of organized crime were foreigners who make up only nine percent of the population. Hintze reported that there were criminal gangs from 87 countries in Germany. An effective battle against these gangs could only be achieved by listening in on people in their homes.
FAZ 30.3.98

Germany is the main destination of asylum seekers in the European Union

According to Eurostat, the European Bureau of Statistics, around half of all petitions for asylum in the European Union in 1996 were filed in Germany, Switzerland or Norway. Eurostat registered 246,000 petitions for asylum of which 117,000 were made in Germany. In comparison to 1995 the number of asylum seekers all over Europe had decreased by 16 percent and reached the lowest level since 1988. In Germany there were some 12,000 fewer petitions in 1996 than in 1995, a nine-percent drop. Most asylum seekers came from Turkey; of these, 80% made their applications in Germany. Germany was the preferred destination for asylum seekers from eight of the ten most important countries of origin. After Germany, Great Britain (30,000 petitions), the Netherlands ( 23,000) and France (17,000) were the main receiving countries.
dpa 23.3.98 // FR 24.3.98 // SZ 24.3.19

Aussiedler statistics

According to information from the Federal Commissioner for Aussiedler, Horst Waffenschmidt, 25,974 Aussiedler (ethnic German immigrants) came to Germany in the first three months of this year. This is 11,500 fewer than in the same period of the previous year. Waffenschmidt said that not only the number of Aussiedler but also the number of petitions for admission were declining. A substantial majority of the Aussiedler, 25,000, came from the former Soviet Union. Waffenschmidt attributed the declining numbers to the fact that ethnic Germans in the new housing developments in Kazakhstan and Central Asia increasingly chose to stay in these areas, keeping their entry papers only for an emergency.
SZ 2.4.98

Asylum statistics

In the first three months of this year 21,534 persons applied for asylum in Germany. According to the federal minister of the interior, Manfred Kanther, this is a reduction of 22.7 percent compared with the same period of the previous year. The main countries of origin were former Yugoslavia (1,838 asylum seekers), followed by Turkey (l,129). The Federal Bureau for the Recognition of Foreign Refugees has ruled on over 43,339 petitions since the beginning of 1998. Only 4.1 percent of the asylum seekers were recognized as entitled to asylum. Kanther believes that the numbers demonstrate that the work of the federal government has been successful in "stemming the flow of undeserving asylum seekers". The low rate of recognition indicated that most asylum seekers initiated the asylum procedure without fulfilling the requirements for asylum.
dpa 8.4.98 // FAZ 9.4.98 // Welt 9.4.98

March 1998

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