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efms Migration Report

November 1998

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New commissioner for foreigners: policies of integration in an immigration country

The new federal commissioner for foreigners is Marieluise Beck of the Greens. She hopes her work will promote widespread understanding that Germany has become an immigration country. Mrs. Beck expects of those foreigners who want to be naturalized that they should share a basic consensus with German democracy and calls for an end to treating foreign citizens as if they were "guests". She emphasizes that in future her title will be "Federal Commissioner for Foreigners Affairs and Integration". Outlining the growing responsibilities of her office, such as integrating those entitled to naturalization, Mrs. Beck demands an increase in staff and funding.
Berliner Zeitung 2.11.1998

Church and human-rights groups call for new policies on foreigners

The Protestant Church of Germany (EKD) urges the new government to pursue policies on foreigners and asylum which will be more favourable for foreigners. The chairman of the EKD council, Kock, expects the government to provide clearer regulations for immigration and to improve legal integration by ensuring equal rights for immigrants. At their synod in Muenster, the EKD advocates immediate enforcement of the regulations regarding hardship and backlog asylum cases. Amnesty International seeks to induce the government to carry out a fundamental reform of the asylum law. The human-rights organization feels that in their present form the deportation regulations violate provisions of the European Court.
Welt 2.11.1998 // FR 6.11.1998 // dpa 10.11.98

Refugee Council: judges too quick to presume documents are forged

The refugee council of Niedersachsen reports that administrative courts increasingly reject documents presented at asylum procedures as being forged without examining them closer. The council accuses judges of failing to wait for the Foreign Office to ascertain the authenticity of the documents and thus facilitating rash deportation. The council presented examples of cases in which the Federal Office for the Recognition of Foreign Refugees later recognized documents which had been rejected by administrative courts.
FR 6.11.1998

Federal and state governments at odds over backlog cases

Unable to agree on a common policy regarding the right to remain for refugees who have long resided in Germany, the interior ministers of the Laender have set up a task force to examine the subject. Beckstein, the interior minister of Bavaria, has made clear that the states governed by CDU/CSU would approve of exceptional leave only for very small groups. The SPD and the Greens also have different views on implementing the backlog regulations outlined in the coalition agreement. The new Commissioner for Foreigners, Marieluise Beck (the Greens), feels that self- support should not be a fundamental requirement and advocates granting an exceptional right to remain to unmarried refugees who have resided in Germany for five years and to families who have been here for three years. She demands that an immediate ban on deportation should be declared for all refugees who would profit from this regulation.
FR 5.11.1998 // taz 16.11.98 // FAZ 21.11.98

High administrative court: mothers may be deported only eight weeks after delivery

Citing the right of every mother to shelter and care, the administrative court of Koblenz rules that deportations of mothers may not take place in the first eight weeks after delivery. The ruling followed work prohibition as set out in labor laws.
SZ 4.11.1998

Court declares Islamic instruction at Berlin schools to be permissable

The Berlin school directorate loses a legal dispute against the "Islamic Federation in Berlin". The court rules that the Islamic association must be recognized as a religious community and allowes to hold religious instruction at Berlin schools. The school administration has refused to allow Islamic instruction in school, arguing that the various Islamic associations lacked clear organisational structure and adequate religious consensus. The court ruling, however, is not a definitive authorization to give instruction within schools. The school directorate may introduce new grounds for refusal such as the fact that the association has close ties to the fundamentalist organization "Milli Görüs".
FAZ 5.11.1998 // Welt 5.11.1998

Chancellor Schröder talks about integration in his first executive address

In his first policy speech as Federal Chancellor, Gerhard Schröder speaks of a "decisive integration policy". He speaks out to the foreigners living in Germany, asking them to take an active role in their own integration. At the same time, he emphasizes, Germans would reach out to "those who live, work and pay taxes here, so that they can become part of our democracy". In reference to the debate surrounding the subject of citizenship law, the chancellor notes that "Our feeling of national identity is based not on the traditions of ancestral rights but rather on our self-confidence as a democractic state."
Welt 11.11.98

Gerd Poppe is the new federal commissioner for human rights

Gerd Poppe, a former GDR human-rights activist and presently a Green Bundestag member, is the new Federal Commissioner for Human Rights and Humanitarian Assistance. His office is under the supervision of the Foreign Office and has an advisory function. Poppe declares that he will seek dialogues with authoritarian regimes if this enables him to promote the cause of human rights.
Welt 18.11.98

Schily"s remarks against further immigration trigger debate on immigration law

In a newspaper interview Otto Schily (SPD), the Federal Minister of the Interior, declares that Germany can not sustain further immigration. Schily considers an immigration law unnecessary, because such a law would have to stipulate a zero rate of immigration. The minister also speaks out against recognizing non-governmental persecution as grounds for asylum, arguing this would make the asylum procedure unmanageable. Schily later clarifies his remarks, saying that he is not against immigration in general but had been referring to the present situation. Germany, he said, would fulfill its humanitarian obligations. The Bavarian Minister of the Interior, Günther Beckstein (CSU), calls Schily"s statements "remarkably realistic and gratifyingly clear", and announces that Bayern will introduce an initiative in the Bundesrat to restrict immigration to Germany. Chancellor Gerhard Schröder backs Schily and emphasizes that of all European countries, Germany admits the most immigrants. The Greens and the FDP respond with criticism. The Federal Commissioner for Foreigners, Marieluise Beck, demands that Schily refrain from using such expressions as "the boat is full" and recognize that Germany is and will remain dependent on immigration. The FDP introduces a bill to regulate immigration in the Bundestag but is clearly defeated on the vote.
SZ 16.11.98 // Welt 16.11.98 // FR 16.11.98 // FR 18.11.98 // FAZ 18.11.98 // dpa 19.11.98 // NZ 25.11.98 // dpa 25.11.98

Länder question present form of deportation detention

Following the suicide of a 16-year-old rejected asylum-seeker from India in the juvenile detention institution in Halle, the government of Sachsen-Anhalt intends to arrange for separate detention for deportation-detainees. Rheinland-Pfalz plans to set up a "state shelter for those obliged to leave Germany" with supervision and counseling for psychological and social problems as well as regarding alien rights. Deportation detention would be seen as the last resort in enforcing compulsory departure. Mecklenburg-Vorpommern wants to abolish deportation detention; Prime Minister Harald Ringstorff is in favor of a solution outside the penal system.
dpa 11.11.98 // dpa 17.11.98 // dpa 26.11.98

Bavaria: "Mehmet" is deported

Mehmet, the 14-year-old Turkish serial offender, and his attorney fail to obtain a temporary court order to prevent the youth"s deportation. As a result, Bavaria deports "Mehmet" to Turkey. However, it is possible that Mehmet"s deportation will be declared in retrospect to be illegal when his case is appealed before the Constitutional Court. Experts point to relevant rulings at the European Court of Justice according to which deportation of a child to the parents" country of origin is not allowed if the child"s relationship to the country is purely formal, i.e. when his passport is his only connection to the country.
FAZ 14.11.98 // dpa 16.11.98

Federal Defence Minister and Commissioner for Bosnia oppose hasty return of refugees

After his visit to Sarajevo, Federal Defense Minister Rudolf Scharping (SPD) speaks out against fixing a definite date for the return of the remaining Bosnian refugees. The minister urges that the individual cases should be carefully examined. At the same time, he criticizes the policies of the EU and civil organizations in Bosnia for being too bureaucratic. The former mayor of Bremen and EU administrator in Mostar, Hans Koschnick (SPD), is the new Federal Commissioner for Bosnia. He announces that his main concern is not merely to return the refugees but rather to establish prospects for these people in their country of origin. Koschnick wants to use financial aid as a means of exerting pressure on the authorities in Bosnia to guarantee the continuation of the peace process. Koschnick"s predecessor, Dietmar Schlee (CDU), assessing his own term of office, says that of the 345,000 Bosnian refugees admitted to Germany, more than 265,000 had returned to their homes or immigrated to a third country.
FAZ 25.11.98 // SZ 26.11.98 // dpa 27.11.98 // SZ 28.11.98

New government to make only slight changes in Aussiedler policies

The new government will not fundamentally alter the last government"s Aussiedler policies. Officials of the Federal Interior Ministry have let it be known that they do not wish to cause alarm amongst those ethnic Germans who have remained in their countries of origin. However, the ministry intends to examine all aid programs and funds earmarked for integration, in order to avoid ineffective use of tax-money. The government feels that the assistance provided to Aussiedler in Germany is inadequate and intends to cancel the cuts made in language instruction. The new Commissioner for Aussiedler matters is the SPD Bundestag member Jochen Welt.
FAZ 23.11.98 // FAZ 3.12.98

President Herzog favors public debate on immigration

In President Herzog"s opinion, the public has received the impression that the political authorities do not have the immigration situation under control. Herzog feels that in order to avoid generating anxiety and to improve integration opportunities, immigration must be organized in a way that is easy to grasp. The president also advocates clearly defining the term integration.
FR 28.11.98

Interior Minister Schily wants to improve the legal status of Islamic associations

The Federal Minister of the Interior, Otto Schily (SPD), urges that Islamic religious organizations should be recognized as corporate bodies of public law like the Christian churches. This classification would have considerable benefits for the associations, such as public grants and tax exemptions. Schily also sees benefits for the state in the fact that political leaders would have dialogue partners and a legal basis for Islamic religious instruction within the school system would be given. The Islamic Council, a nationwide umbrella organization, reacts positively to Schily"s statements. The chairman, Hasan Özdogan declares that his group is prepared to assume a more prominent political role and to cooperate in every way with political authorities. Members of the CDU/CSU on the other hand, express misgivings about Schily"s remarks, because they feel there are too many different Islamic groups.
SZ 30.11.98 // Welt 1.12.98 // taz 3.12.98

Asylum statistics

In November there were 10,883 applications for political asylum. The number of applications was 3.2% above the previous month. In comparison to November 1997, the increase was nearly 30%. The main country of origin remains the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia; for the first time, however, the number of applicants from that country dropped slightly. The number of asylum seekers from Turkey, Irak and Armenia, on the other hand, increased. The rate of recognition in November was 3.5%.
BMI Press Announcement 4.12.98

November 1998

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