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efms Migration Report

November 1999

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Debate on German asylum law

The Federal Interior Minister, Otto Schily (SPD), expresses the view that the present immigration puts too great a strain on Germany and that the asylum law should be examined with regard to its expediency since only 3% of the 100,000 refugees who annually come to Germany actually qualify for asylum, whereas the rest are "economic refugees". Schily"s comments meet with strong criticism from the Greens, refugee organizations and Christian churches in Germany who charge that such statements stir up xenophobic feeling against asylum seekers.The groups also challenge the 3% figure: the recognition rate for asylum applications is 3.48% according to the statistics of the Federal Office for the Recognition of Foreign Refugees, but if "little asylum" ( the implementation of deportation protection according to the Geneva Refugee Convention) and the number of tolerated persons are counted, over 19% of the asylum seekers qualify for asylum. Schily wonders whether the German asylum law will continue to exist in the long run, due to European harmonization. According to Antonio Vittorino, the EU Justice Commissioner, European harmonization builds on the minimum norms based on the Geneva Refugee Convention. Beyond that however, the EU states could keep and develop their own asylum laws. According to Schily, the Geneva Refugee Convention should regulate "rights in asylum" not the "right to asylum". Critics fear that the interior minister aspires to a transformation of the constitutional right to asylum to a non-binding right based on clemency which disregards German historical experience in which the basic right to asylum has its roots.
SZ 28.10.99 // Par 5.11.99 // Welt 5.11.99 // SZ 6./7.11.99 // NN 8.11.99 // NZ 9.11.99 // FR 11.11.99 // Tagesspiegel 12.11.99 // FAZ 13.11.99 //Welt 13.11.99 // Spiegel 15.11.99 // Spiegel 22.11.99 // FR 30.11.99

Agreement on asylum seekers backlog- and hardship cases

The federal and state interior ministers agree on November 19 in Görlitz on a settlement of longstanding rejected asylum-seekers who are waiting for the final decision to be taken in their cases. Families with minor-aged children who have been living in Germany since July 1,1993 and childless, single refugees who have been staying in Germany since January 1,1990, will be granted a leave to remain limited to two years under the following conditions: that the refugees do not claim welfare assistance; that the refugees can make a living for the entire family by legal means; that the refugees can demonstrate that they have adequate living space; that the refugees have not committed any offences; and that school-aged children are attending a school. In addition, those persons who, through no fault of their own cannot leave Germany, receive according to the hardship regulation permission to stay. The settlement, which affects a total of 20,000 persons, includes the Vietnamese who, for the most part, used to be contract workers of the GDR. Civil-war refugees from Bosnia-Herzegovina and other parts of former Yugoslavia are excluded from the settlement. As a counter move, the CDU manages to get approval for the implementation of a task force which is to effect a more rapid repatriation of rejected asylum seekers.
FR 17.11.99 // SZ 19.11.99 // Welt 19.11.99 // SZ 20.11.99 // Welt 20.11.99

Repatriation of Kosovo refugees

According to a decision of the federal and state interior ministers, the large-scale compulsory repatriation of Kosovo refugees who have remained in Germany will begin in Spring 2000. Most of these refugees are living in Germany as rejected asylum seekers. The refugees will cease to receive the temporary assistance which had been granted to tide them over. After a Kosovo Albanian criminal offender was deported from Bavaria for the first time since the end of the war, Bavaria"s Interior Minister Günther Beckstein (CDU) announces further deportations not only of offenders but also of the family members of offenders and welfare recipients. The emergency relief committee Cap Anamur warns that many Kosovo inhabitants are in danger of freezing to death. The aid money pledged at the Balkan conference in Sarajevo in July of the previous year could not be spent until April/May of the coming year. Until now, 13,000 refugees have returned to Kosovo from Germany.
Spiegel 8.11.99 // SZ 8.11.99 // taz 8.11.99 // FR 11.11.99 // FR 13.11.99 // NZ 13.11.99 // SZ 20.11.99

Proposed law gives authorities access to Central Foreigners Register

The CDU/CSU Bundestag group introduces a bill which would give the police and other authorities access to the Central Foreigners Register in order to improve the combat of smuggling, illegal immigration and abuse of social benefits. In addition, a warning file would be set up for suspicious foreigners. Federal Interior Minister Otto Schily (SPD) advocates an unprejudiced discussion of the proposals free from bans on thinking, while SPD Bundestag member Eckhardt Barthel favors examining the existing possibilities and warns of the danger of creating "second-class citizens".
dpa 5.11.99 // FR 5.11.99

Call to abolish airport procedure for under-aged asylum seekers

The Greens and Pro Asyl demand that unaccompanied minors seeking asylum be exempted from the airport procedure and not "interned" in the special rooms of the Frankfurt Airport until their procedures have been completed. The groups stated, moverover, that the number of unaccompanied underaged refugees was so low that the UN Childrens Rights Convention could now be completely ratified. Interior Minister Schily does not consider this proposal wise, nor does he aim for a change in the airport procedure. He explains that the number of unaccompanied minors is small only because Germany sentds out "restrictive signals". He concedes that the accommodation facilities should be improved.
SZ 5.11.99 // FR 8.11.99 // Spiegel 15.11.99 // FR 19.11.99

Criticism of new regulations in the Asylum Seekers Benefits Law

The state governments of Baden-Württemberg and Hessen intend to call on the federal government to repeal the 1997 reform of the Asylum Seekers Benefits Law. According to this regulation, which is aimed at improving integration, asylum seekers who have been living in Germany for three years would receive the same welfare-benefits rates as German citizens as of June 1, 2000. In the first three years the basic benefits are 20% under the welfare rate. According to CDU/FDP governed states, the present benefits are sufficient and it would be wrong to give privileges to certain groups among the asylum-seekers. Asylum-seekers would receive the wrong signals if benefits were raised, since this could be seen as an incentive to prolong asylum proceedings.
Spiegel 1.11.99 // dpa 2.11.99 // FAZ 3.11.99 // SZ 3.11.99

Asylum-seekers and recognized refugees may apply for work permits after two years

The Federal Employment Ministry announces that in the future asylum-seekers and recognized refugees will be able to submit applications for work permits after two years instead of four to six years. Earlier, the state foreigners commissioners had recommended getting rid of unnecessary work-permit regulations, arguing that calls for integration were meaningless if people were being kept from the job market. Moreover, a reform would reduce bureaucracy and administrative expenditures.
FAZ 10.11.99 // FAZ 22.11.99

European Parliament approves central data bank Eurodac

The European Parliament approves the establishment of Eurodac, a central data bank, to which the member states would send the fingerprints of all asylum seekers and illegal immigrants. By comparing the fingerprints, it would be possible to expose attempts at multiple applications.The data of asylum seekers and illegal immigrants would be stored for ten and two years respectively. The minimum age requirement for taking fingerprints would probably be at 14.
SZ 19.11.99

Universities and cities demand improved study conditions for foreigners

Universities and cities are demanding improved study and residence conditions for foreign students in Germany. The admission procedures should be simplified and opportunities for financing studies should be created, especially for students from third countries who have difficulty gaining access to student jobs. Moreover, German students should be encouraged to be more open-minded towards foreign students. Finally, the universities and cities point out that the economic significance of an increase in the number of foreign students in Germany should not be underestimated.
dpa 4.11.99

Aussiedler statistics

In November 1999 11,595 persons were registered as Aussiedler in Germany. In the same month of the previous year the number had been 8,973.
BMI Press Announcement 2.12.99

Asylum statistics

In November 1999 there were 7,476 persons applying for asylum in Germany. This number exhibited no essential change over the previous month (7,505 persons). In comparison to November 1998, the number of asylum seekers dropped significantly by 31.3% (3,407 persons). The number of asylum-seekers from the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (1,410) was again lower than in the previous month (1,733). The rate of approval in completed cases was 1.5% (293 persons). Protection from deportation following the Geneva Convention for Refugees was granted to 537 persons (2.8%).
BMI Press Announcement 5.12.99

November 1999

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