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efms Migration Report

November 2006

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EU/AU: EU promotes partnership in migration policy at ministerial conference

On 22 and 23 November 2006, a ministerial conference on the topics of migration and development was held between the European Union (EU) and the African Union (AU) in the Libyan city of Tripolis. The negotiations were aimed at preparing an action plan for an immigration policy based on partnership in order to control migration flows to the benefit of both continents in a more efficient way. The EU presented its new concept to limit and control immigration to Europe which, inter alia, comprises a model plan to allow temporary immigration to Europe. Moreover, the EU Member States want to intensify its measures to combat human trafficking and illegal immigration. Federal Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU) said at the conference that the model of a temporary immigration could only work if irregular migration was successfully limited. The representatives of the AU States widely welcomed the concept. The Libyan minister for foreign affairs, Chalgahm, argued, however, that repressive solutions alone would not be sufficient to limit illegal immigration. The Moroccan minister for foreign affairs, Bena?ssa, advised the participants against relying too much on police and border control measures. It would have turned out that operations of the security forces against illegal immigration proved to be successful to a limited extend only. Italy, as one of the EU countries affected most by illegal immigration, stressed that additional measures needed to be taken anyway. Amnesty International praised the "positive approaches" of the European migration policy.
SZ 22.11.06 // Der Standard 22.11.06 // SZ 23.11.06 // NZZ 23.11.06 // Press release 20.11.06

EUMC Study on discrimination and racism in Europe

On 28 November 2006, the EU Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC) presented its latest study in Brussels. The findings were as follows: Throughout the EU, discrimination would occur particularly often at schools as well as on the labour and on the housing markets. In individual cases, school students of foreign origin were for instance not allowed to speak their mother tongue on the school yards. Two indicators on the susceptibility of the labour markets to discrimination could be seen in the higher unemployment rates of migrants compared to the majority population and in job advertisements. As regards the searching of accommodations, housing ads could be found in all EU Member States whose wording would exclude foreigners as tenants. All in all, an increase in racist violence could be observed in countries such as Germany, France and Denmark. Members of Roma would above all be subject to violent attacks. But also an increase in Islamophobic activities and anti-Semitism could be observed.
Die Welt 29.11.06

Right to remain: IMK decision provides for provisional solution

On 17 November 2006, the interior ministers of the German federal states agreed at their conference held in Nuremberg on a ruling regulating the right to remain with immediate effect. According to the ruling, tolerated foreigners who have been residing in Germany for many years are to be granted a permanent right to remain. As a prerequisite, the persons need to have a fixed job and must provide evidence of their fulfilment of a permanent minimum stay in Germany. Single persons must have stayed in Germany for eight years, families with minor children for six years. A ban on deportations until 30 September 2007 also went into force with immediate effect for all persons affected who are thus given time to find employment by this deadline. The Union parties and the SPD, however, have already made clear that the decision is to serve only as an intermediate solution to be applicable for some months until the entering into force of a federal law. All in all, the coalition intends to loosen the decision on the right to remain taken by the conference of the interior ministers (IMK) as only about 20,000 of the total of 190,000 tolerated foreigners would benefit from the current provision. The decision of the IMK had been preceded by a clearly more generous proposal of the coalition government in Berlin. A combination of the ruling of the interior ministers of the federal states and the originally planned regulation of the federal government would increase to 60,000 the number of tolerated foreigners who have a chance to be granted a permanent right to remain. According to estimates, 20,000 persons affected could apply for a residence permit already now as they fulfilled the requirements already now. The expert for interior policy of the SPD, Dieter Wiefelspütz, praised the decision of the IMK saying that the interior ministers of the federal states had revealed a legislative loophole which could not have been closed by the legislator in due time and which would now be covered by having introduced an interim solution to be in force until the end of September 2007. The Federal Ministry of the Interior said it would be clear that the coalition would "supplement" the decision of the IMK by a provision based on federal law.
Press release of Bavarian Interior Ministry of State 17.11.06 // SZ 18.11.06 // FAZ 21.11.06 // FR 21.11.06 // SZ 22.11.06 // Ministry of the Interior of Lower Saxony online 22.11.06

Grand coalition adopts minimum age of 18 for reunification of spouses

Within the framework of the revision of the immigration law, the grand coalition has agreed on a minimum age of 18 years for the reunification of spouses. The introduction of a statutory minimum age is one measure to combat forced marriages of young Muslim women. Reunifications will be also denied if there are grounds to suspect that a forced marriage or an arranged marriage are to be used to surreptitiously obtain residence permits. Federal Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU) had favoured a minimum age of 21 years whereas the SPD and the Integration Commissioner of the Federal Government, Maria Böhmer (CDU), had insisted on a minimum of 18 years. The immigrating spouse is also required to provide evidence of having a basic knowledge of the German language. The spokesman of the SPD group in the federal parliament, Dieter Wiefelspütz, said that it should be avoided that integration deficits would be brought to Germany.
FAZ 05.11.06

BAMF presents concept for naturalisation tests

The Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) has prepared a concept for nation-wide naturalisation standards, which was taken note of at the conference of the interior ministers held on 16 and 17 November 2006. According to this concept, naturalisation candidates would need to fulfil two requirements. Firstly, they need to have sufficient German language skills in order to be able to understand conversations and news. Secondly, they have to pass a naturalisation test consisting of 33 multiple choice questions to test the "civil basic knowledge" and the knowledge of the German Basic Law in a 60 minutes session. In order to prepare for taking the test, the concept foresees a naturalisation course comprising 60 hours and a "naturalisation test guide" for people preparing themselves. In its draft concept, the BAMF opted for a neutral knowledge test in contrast to the test employed in the federal state of Baden-Württemberg, which has been used since the beginning of the year also to check the personal opinions of naturalisation applicants. The Interior Minister of the federal state of Schleswig-Holstein, Ralf Stegner (SPD), praised the model of the BAMF as being free of questions snooping around to find out the people"s political convictions and of other senseless questions such as they are included in the test employed in Baden-Württemberg.
FR 13.11.06 // Der Spiegel 13.11.06 // SZ 15.11.06

Internal migration: Many East Germans return to their regions of origin

According to the findings of a study conducted by the Berlin-based Nexus Institute, a considerable proportion of those moving to the new federal states in the east of Germany are persons who return to their regions of origin. Hans-Luidger Dienel, managing director of the Nexus Institute, said that for instance in the city of Magdeburg, 30 per cent of those newly arriving would be returnees. In the years 2003/2004, out of about 3,400 registered immigrants, 1,000 were returnees. In rural areas this proportion would amount to even as much as 50 per cent. Many returnees would even accept disadvantages in their careers. Thus the main reasons for returning would be of private nature. Only one third of the returnees mentioned professional reasons for their returns, said Dienel.
Die Welt 03.11.06

Fight against xenophobia: Co-ordination group against right-wing extremism

On 8 November 2006, the Federal Ministry of the Interior (BMI) and the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs (BMFSFJ) agreed with their corresponding partner ministries in the new German (eastern) federal states including Berlin, as well as with representatives of the municipal umbrella organisations on setting-up a co-ordination group to combat right-wing extremism. The work of the group is aimed at supporting on all levels the current and future measures to combat right-wing extremism. This is to allow using synergy effects, to avoid double work and to reveal gaps in action chains. Gerd Hoofe, parliamentary undersecretary at the BMFSFJ, said the measures would be particularly aimed at youths without future perspectives who would often be quite susceptible to right-wing oriented ideologies. In 2007, a total of 24 million euros - 5 million euros more than in the year before - will be spent to combat right-wing extremism. A new action programme of the federal government titled "Youth, variety, tolerance and democracy - against right-wing extremism, xenophobia and anti-Semitism" focuses particularly on social integration, an intercultural and inter-religious learning, anti-racist education activities and social work with youths threatened by right-wing extremist ideas. The programme is based on three pillars: Firstly, the support of local activities, secondly, the promotion of model projects and, thirdly, the ongoing evaluation of information on federal level.
Press release BMI 09.11.06 // Die Welt 21.11.06

Campaign against "Violence in the Name of Honour"

In cooperation with migrant organisations and well-known women such as Alice Schwarzer and the lawyer Seyran Ates, the Ministry for Integration of the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia has launched a campaign against "Violence in the Name of Honour". Two hundred fifty thousand postcards bearing slogans such as "Her freedom, his honour" are to be distributed throughout Germany within the next months. Theatre performances on the topic and panel discussions will be organised at schools. The Integration Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, Armin Laschet, said that "honour" would be a term that is often misused to justify violence. The campaign is not only to create public attention but also to give terms a new definition. Moreover, affected women would be given a signal that they were provided support, said Seyran Ates. The campaign is also supported by the Turkish newspaper "Hürriyet".
Spiegel online 24.11.06

Federal Constitutional Court: Asylum applicants not obliged to use compensations for immaterial damages to make their livings

On 2 November 2006, the Federal Constitutional Court (BVerfG) in Karlsruhe declared unconstitutional a special provision contained in the Law governing the Benefits for Asylum Seekers, which had stipulated that compensations paid for immaterial damages needed to be taken into consideration upon calculating the amount of social benefits paid out to asylum seekers. According to the court"s first senate, the special provision infringes the principle of equality stipulated by the German Basic Law. Compensation for immaterial damages would be paid to compensate for physical or psychological damages and is not meant to make one"s living. Now, the legislator needs to amend this provision of the Law governing the Benefits for Asylum Seekers by June 2007.
Press release BVerfG 02.11.06 // FR 03.11.2006 // FAZ 03.11.06

ZfT study: Image of Islam in Germany worsening

According to the findings of a study conducted by the Centre for Turkish Studies (ZfT) at the University of Duisburg-Essen, the image of Islam in the public opinion in Germany has considerably worsened since the year 2000. Since then, Muslims would be shown overproportionally often as terrorists and violent criminals. The study investigated how often Islam-critical topics and topics relating to integration and security policies were addressed by the public opinion and how often sceptical, critical or negative comments were made about Islam. Zft member Dirk Halm said that the security policy had replaced the topic of integration policy in the public debate. This would be due to the linking of anti-terror strategies to Islam as a whole. Despite the efforts for a "fair reporting" at the occasion of political appearances, like in the federal parliament or in newspaper reports, the major part of comments would show negative tendencies. Yet only one third of the statements would still strive for conciliation, while more than 60 per cent of the reports would draw a negative picture.
Evangelischer Pressedienst online 29.11.06 // FAZ 30.11.06

DIW study: Former guest workers particularly threatened by poverty among old people

According to a study conducted by the German Institute of Economic Research (DIW) in Berlin titled "Income of Retired Immigrants", former guest workers in Germany are particularly threatened by poverty among old people: The pension payments to labour migrants from Turkey and the former Yugoslavia would on average be 20 per cent lower than the pensions paid to the local population in Germany. For late repatriates of German origin, retirement benefits would be only 6 per cent below average. The reason for the lower retirement benefits of former guest workers would be on the one hand shorter periods of paying contributions to the pension schemes, and, on the other hand, the lower wages and salaries they were paid as unskilled or semi-skilled workers as well as the shed of labour affecting labour migrants. Ingrid Tucci, co-author of the DIW study, expressed concerns that the situation could worsen for next generations of pensioners with migration background if the opportunities of older people and immigrants on the labour market would not be improved.
Press release DIW 03.11.06 // SZ 04.11.06

Refugee council awards the title "Deportation Minister 2006" to Mr Beckstein

Within the framework of the "Election of the Deportation Minister 2006", the Refugee Council declared the Bavarian Minister of the Interior, Günther Beckstein (CSU), the "winner" of this year"s election. Mr Beckstein said he would consider his election an award given by the political opposition for his consequent implementation of the law and added that the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees as well as the courts would take decisions on asylum applications to whose implementation the interior ministers of the federal states would be bound by law.
Press release of the Bavarian Interior State Ministry 16.11.06

Asylum statistics

In November 2006, a total of 1,749 persons have submitted a petition for political asylum in Germany. The figure constitutes a decrease of 5.0 per cent (-93 persons) compared to October 2006. Compared to November 2005, the number of asylum seekers has declined by 29.0 per cent (-715 persons). In November 2006, the main countries of origin were Iraq (230), Serbia (196), Turkey (159), the Russian Federation (96) and Vietnam (88). In November 2006, the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees has reviewed the applications of 2,582 asylum seekers, 28 (1.1 per cent) of whom have been recognised as entitled to political asylum. A further 112 applicants (4.3 per cent) have been granted protection against deportation according to §60, paragraph 1, Residence Act. The petitions of 1,576 applicants (61.0 per cent) have been rejected. The cases of a further 866 persons (33.6 per cent) have been closed for other reasons, e.g. because persons have withdrawn their applications.

November 2006

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