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efms Migration Report

November 2000

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German parties present proposals on immigration

The CDU commission on immigration has presented a draft for a new proposal addressing the issue of migration to Germany. The paper generally accepts the fact of immigration to Germany, regarding it as necessary. It emphasises, however, that migration inflows have to be regulated and limited in scope. Concerning the question of integration the CDU has decided to continue using the much-criticised concept of a German "Leitkultur" or guiding culture, differing opinions within the party notwithstanding. This concept argues that a knowledge of German, together with a declared belief in the values embodied in the German constitution, and respect for the traditions of Humanism, the Enlightenment and Christianity, are essential prerequisites for integrating migrants into German society. It also calls for integration programmes designed to further these values. In addition, the CDU is discussing changes in German asylum laws, with particular emphasis on transforming the constitutional right to political asylum into an institutional guarantee. Bavaria"s CSU, on the other hand, has issued a more stringent draft of its own, calling for a limitation of migration inflows, the replacement of the constitutional right of political asylum by an institutional guarantee and additional measures to combat political asylum abuse. The CSU draft also resorts to the "Leitkultur" concept, but emphasises that Germany is not to develop into one of the "classic immigration countries". Nevertheless, the paper argues that Germany"s economic interests and demographic situation call for an annual immigration quota for qualified specialists from abroad. The CSU is planning to set up its own commission on migration with Mr. Beckstein, the Bavarian Minister of the Interior, as its chairman. The commission"s goal would be to present a proposal on "Regulating and Limiting Immigration" by spring 2001, which should then form the basis for a joint proposal with its sister party, the CDU. Meanwhile, the Greens have presented their own paper, putting forward a three-tier approach to immigration including quotas for three different groups of migrants: (1) migrant workers, (2) immigration for political and humanitarian reasons, including such groups as civil-war refugees and "Spätaussiedler" (ethnic German immigrants), (3) immigration based on legal guarantees such as the constitutional right to political asylum, the right to family migration and the freedom of movement within the EU. Respective quotas are to be set regularly by joint decisions of both houses of the German parliament, on the basis of current requirements. The draft emphasises the need to retain the individual constitutional right to political asylum. In addition, integration courses should be offered on a voluntary basis to all foreign residents of Germany, however, without imposing a German "Leitkultur" on foreigners.
FAZ 2.11.00 // Spiegel 6.11.00 // CDU Federal Administrative Office 7.11.00 // dpa 7.11.00 // taz 7.11.00 // SZ 8.11.00 // FR 9.11.00 // FR 14.11.00 // dpa 14.11.00 // Die Grünen Homepage 15.11.00

Continuing debate on integration and concept of German "Leitkultur"

The heated debate on the concept of a German "Leitkultur" or German guiding culture has been continuing, with representatives of the Social Democrats and the Greens as well as other groups, above all Paul Spiegel, President of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, calling it superfluous and even dangerous. Despite the controvesy there are signs of a consensus among political parties, defining acquisition of the German language and respect for the German constitution as the main prerequisites for integration.
Welt 1.11.00 // Spiegel 6.11.00 // taz 7 .11.00 // SZ 11.11. 00 // Welt 11.11.00

Controversy over asylum law

German asylum law has been the focus of a heated debate among political parties concerning the reform of migration laws. Whereas Bavaria"s CSU has demanded the replacement of the constitutional right to political asylum by an institutional guarantee, leaders of the CDU, its sister party, have expressed differing views. Friedrich Merz, leader of the CDU parliamentary party, is in favour of the CSU proposals. Peter Müller, state prime minister of Saarland and chairman of the CDU commission on immigration, however, has emphasised the need for legal changes in order to shorten asylum procedures and combat asylum abuse, but has spoken out against efforts to alter the German constitution, which brings him in line with Jürgen Rüttgers, vice chairman of the CDU, who has expressed similar views. This leaves the two sister parties, the CDU and the CSU, with differing opinions in their own ranks. The other opposition parties, the FDP and the PDS, have declared their support for the constitutional right to political asylum. According to Volker Beck, speaker of the Greens, the proposals for changing the constitution will get no majority in parliament. According to the conservative parties, the CDU and the CSU, the main argument in favour of abolishing the constitutional right to asylum is the high level of abuse, which in their opinion can be gathered from the fact that only about 3% of asylum applicants are recognised as political refugees by authorities. This figure, however, does not include the large number of persons that are protected against deportation for legal reasons or due to obstacles within deportation procedures. A survey published by the Federal Government Commissioner for Foreigners and Integration has drawn the conclusion that approximately 50% of asylum applicants are in some way protected against deportation. In addition, several experts have argued that a change in the constitution would not alter this situation in any way. On the contrary, Germany would still be bound by its obligations under international law, particularly the Geneva Convention, which grants protection to political refugees. The only consequence of changing the constitution would be to restrict the right of asylum applicants to appeal against asylum decisions by German authorities in court. Meanwhile, several other influential figures, such as Sadako Ogata, president of the UNHCR, Wolfgang Thierse, speaker of the lower house of German parliament, and protestant church leaders in Bavaria have warned against abolishing this constitutional right.
SZ 4.11.00 // FR 9.11.00 // FR 20.11.00 // FR 21.11.00 // Spiegel online 21.11.00 // SZ 22.11.00 // FAZ 22.11.00 // Spiegel online 26.11.00 // dpa 27.11.00 // FAZ 28.11.00

EU Commission calls for active immigration policy

The EU Commission has issued proposals for further guidelines under the Amsterdam treaty of 1998, which envisions the harmonisation of European immigration and asylum policies. The proposals call for an active and well-regulated immigration policy in all EU member states as well as "unambiguous support for more immigration and multicultural societies". It is the declared aim of EU Justice Commissioner Antonio Vitorino"s to launch a general debate on migration in order to lay the groundwork for proposals on harmonising EU regulations on immigration and asylum, which are to be issued by the end of 2001. In Vitorino"s view, the policies followed over the last 30 years "which aimed at preventing immigration" have to be regarded as outdated in view of current economic and demographic developments. The EU Commission does not favour the introduction of immigration quotas for the whole of the EU. Rather, EU member states are to submit regular reports on their labour demand, which are to be presented to the EU Council of Ministers. On this basis the Council of Ministers is then to pass general guidelines on a common EU migration policy.
FR 22.11.00 // SZ 23.11.00 // NZZ 23.11.00 // taz 23.11.2000

Agreement with Hong Kong on repatriation

Germany and Hong Kong have signed a mutually binding agreement on repatriation. Under the agreement, both countries are obliged to allow the return migration of nationals facing deportation in the other of the two countries.
FR 18.11.00

Deportation of convicted asylum applicants to be restricted

The Federal Administrative Court in Berlin has ruled that three Kurdish asylum applicants from Turkey, who were arrested and sentenced following violent protests of Kurdish organisations in Germany in spring 1997, are not to be deported to Turkey. The court has ruled that the three are unlikely to break the law again but face political persecution if sent back to Turkey.
dpa 16.11. 00 // Federal Administrative Court Press Announcement 16.11.00 // FR 18.11.00

Panel of experts to support BAFl

The Asylum Information Centre at the BAFl, the Federal Office for the Recognition of Foreign Refugees in Nuremberg, is to co-operate with a panel of legal and academic experts as well as representatives of the UNHCR and human rights organisations. The panel is to support the work of the BAFl in areas such as asylum law, protection of refugees and migration.
BMI Press Announcement 23.11.00 // BAFl Press Announcement 23.11.00

Traumatised refugees from Bosnia are allowed to stay

State and Federal Interior Ministers have decided to halt deportations of heavily traumatised refugees from Bosnia. Bosnian refugees that entered Germany before December 15, 1995, and have been undergoing psychological treatment since January 1, 2000, will be issued with a two-year residence entitlement. In response to demands of employers, refugees from Kosovo that are fully employed in Germany will be allowed to stay on until the end of July 2001. Their spouses and children, however, have to leave Germany by April 31, 2001.
SZ 23.11.00 // Spiegel online 24.11.00 // SZ 25.11.00

Statistics on ethnic German immigrants (Aussiedler)

Migration inflows of Aussiedler amounted to 7,272 in November 2000, compared to 11,595 in November of the previous year. On the whole, 9,446 applications for entering Germany were submitted in November 2000. (November 1999: 13,089). The decrease is part of a continuing trend that has been witnessed for approximately three years.
BMI Press Announcement 7.12.00

Statistics on asylum applications

7,909 asylum applications were submitted in November, a slight increase (225 applications or 2.9%) on the previous month. Compared to November 1999, numbers have increased by 5.8%. The three main source countries were Iraq (1,239 persons), Turkey (896 persons) and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (767 persons). Of the 8,010 decisions passed this month, 305 persons (3.8%) were officially recognised as entitled to political asylum, the highest percentage so far this year. The percentage of applicants protected against deportation according to Art.51 Par.1 Foreigners Act was 13.3%, which is significantly above average. 55.7% of all applications were rejected.
BMI Press Announcement 7.12.00

November 2000

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