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efms Migration Report

January 2008

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EU plans alignment of standards on the recognition of asylum applications to limit illegal immigration

Against the background of the extension of the Schengen area and the removal of the internal EU borders as a consequence, the EU Commission and the EU Member States want to strengthen their efforts to further develop their common asylum policy. The objective would be to reduce illegal migration flows inside the EU due to differences in the asylum recognition rates in the different Member States. The principle of safe third-countries, which is applied in the EU, provides for asylum applicants to file their applications in the EU Member State where they first enter the community. Different chances to be granted an asylum status, however, constitute incentives for applicants to leave the country of first entry towards another Member State with a greater likelihood to be recognised in order to file their corresponding application there. The authorities in Warsaw, for instance, have observed an increased illegal migration of Chechens from Poland and the Czech Republic particularly to Austria where up to 85 per cent of the asylum applications would be granted. In contrast, the recognition rates in Poland amounted to only about 3 per cent. On the occasion of a meeting in the Slovenia town of Brdo on 25 January 2008, the Interior Ministers of the EU Member States therefore agreed to set-up standards to be applied in the course of asylum recognition proceedings in all EU countries, for example regarding a common evaluation of the situations in countries of origin. Moreover, a more even distribution of refugees among the EU Member States is to be addressed in order to share the corresponding burdens in a fairer way.
Tagesspiegel online 12.01.08 // dpa 15.01.08 // Die Welt 25.01.08 // NN 26.01.08 OÖNachrichten 26.01.08

Turkish cabinet decides to introduce the right to vote by post

According to a decision of the Turkish cabinet, Turkish nationals living abroad are in future to be given the opportunity to cast their votes in parliamentary elections, plebiscites and direct elections also in their new home countries. So far, votes could be cast only on Turkish territory. Kenan Kolat, chairman of the Turkish community in Germany, welcomed the cabinet"s decision and said it would be good for the people to be finally given the opportunity to participate in the taking of decisions. Positive effects could be expected as regards the political involvement of Turkish people in Germany if it turned out that it would be useful to get involved in politics, according to Kolat. The politician Giysetting Sayan (the Left party), of Turkish-Kurdish origin, warned, however, of nationalistic forces and demanded that electoral campaigns should not be directed against Europe or Germany.
Die Welt online 08.01.08 // BZ 09.01.08

Quarrels about options model

Quarrels between the political parties have flared up about whether or not to abolish or to continue the so-called options model that had come into force at the beginning of the year. The model adopted in 2000 provides for youths with a migration background, who so far possessed a double citizenship, to decide themselves either in favour of the German citizenship or the citizenship of their country of origin at the age between 18 and 23 years. If they take no decision, they automatically lose the German citizenship when reaching the age of 23. According to the Ministry of the Interior, the first 3,100 young migrants would have to face such decision in this year. Until 2025, a total of about 330,000 youths would be affected by this provision. Now, members of the coalition parties have been questioning the options model. The interior policy expert of the SPD party, Dieter Wiefelspütz, for instance, is concerned about a possible avalanche of legal and human problems to come over Germany. Also the vice-chairman of the CDU party, Wolfgang Bosbach, warned of a flood of legal proceedings. According to Bosbach, many of those affected would not be willing to take a decision and to accept the legal consequences without taking legal actions. Against the backdrop of the practical problems, the SPD, Greens and Left parties demanded the introduction of the possibility of possessing two nationalities, an approach cleared rejected by the Union parties. On the occasion of a hearing held in the Federal Parliament, also the legal scientist Rainer Hoffmann from Frankfurt expressed himself in favour of abolishing the obligation to take a decision. The objective of German politics to impede multiple nationalities pursued over many years would have become old-fashioned and the possession of two passports would have become a trend that can be observed throughout Europe, said Hoffmann.
taz 28.12.07 // FR 02.01.08 // FAZ 07.01.08

Right-wing extremism: concerns about growing social significance of the NPD party

The Office for the Protection of the Constitution and politicians are concerned about the rising significance the right-wing Nationaldemokratische Partei Deutschlands (NPD) is gaining in the German society. According to data of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, the number of NPD members throughout Germany had risen between 2005 and 2006 by 1,000 to reach 7,000 persons. Also on political level, the party, which is considered to be anticonstitutional, has increased its presence: At the elections to the regional parliament of Saxony, for instance, it obtained 9.4 per cent of the votes cast, which equals twelve seats in Saxony"s local parliament. Also in the federal state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, the NPD is represented in the local parliament with six seats. In 2007, the members of the local parliament with its seat in Schwerin expressed themselves in favour of a new attempt to launch a proceeding before the Federal Constitutional Court in order to prohibit the party. Except the Interior Minister of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Lorenz Caffier (CDU), however, the heads of the interior ministries of other federal states belonging to the Union party are critical of new proceedings in order to ban the NPD as they fear to suffer another defeat before the court. Caffier regrets the position of his counterparts and said that after having experienced the activities of the NPD in the local parliament for one year now he would be convinced more than ever about its unconstitutionality. In his dossier on a new proceeding to ban the party, Caffier cites the chairman of the NPD party in the local parliament, Udo Pastörs, who said that they (i.e. the NPD party) would intentionally constitute a threat to the state of the political party system, which he called a construct of the American victorious powers.
dpa 23.01.08 //

By addressing the topic of "young criminal foreigners" in his electoral campaign, Koch triggers off a debate

By launching a campaign against juvenile violence in the course of his local electoral campaign, the Minister-President of the federal state of Hesse, Roland Koch (CDU), has triggered off a far-reaching debate on the topic of penalties incurred by young foreigners. Koch used the consternation among the public throughout Germany about pictures in the TV showing a violent attack of two youths with migration background on a jubilee in an underground station of Munich as an opportunity to address the above-average crime rates among youths with migration background in his electoral campaign. Koch came to the conclusion that there were too many criminal young foreigners living in Germany. For a long time, a "strange sociological understanding" would have been shown towards groups which consciously exercised violence as ethnic minorities, according to Koch. He demanded to tighten the criminal law relating to young offenders as well as a speeded-up deportation to their parents" countries of origin of youths who incurred a penalty. The SPD and the Green parties responded to the demands of Koch with indignation and reproaches of populism. The vice-chairman of the SPD party, Ludwig Stiegler, said (by referring to Koch"s campaign to collect signatures against the double citizenship on the occasion of the elections to the local parliament in 1999) that Koch - in his hour of need - once again and without mercy made use of the ever recurring topic of xenophobia. Koch received support for his demands from among his own ranks: Federal Chancellor Merkel, for example, expressed herself in favour of the demanded "temporary warning arrests" and "correction camps". In contrast, federal Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU) was of the opinion that instead of introducing ever new laws it would be rather needed to apply the existing laws in an efficient way. Moreover, he stressed that the increase in violence would not be particularly a problem that can be attributed to foreign offenders only. Berlin"s Senator of the Interior, Erhart Körting (SPD), rejected demands for a speeded-up deportation of offenders and added that besides the parents of a Turkish offender raised in Germany, also the German society would be responsible for his socialisation rather than the Turkish state. Kenan Kolat, chairman of the Turkish community in Germany, lamented that Koch"s campaign would have set back the the integration policy by years. As another aspect part of the debate, also the topic of a seemingly growing "Germanophobia" among some ethnic minorities is being discussed. The police and judiciary confirmed that expressions such as "you bloody German!" or "you pig-eaters!" was increasingly heard in attacks of particularly Turkish and Arabic youths.
Die Welt 31.12.07 // NZ 03.01.08 // Focus 07.01.08 // Der Spiegel 07.07.08 // FAZ 09.01.08 // BZ 10.01.08 // FAZ 10.01.08 // FAZ 15.01.08 // taz 21.01.08 // SZ 26.01.08 // FAZ 27.01.08 // taz 31.10.08

Hardship commissions register a considerable decrease in the number of applications on the right to remain

Since the introduction of the right to remain for long-term tolerated foreigners, the hardship commissions of the federal states have registered a considerable decline in the number of applications on a right to remain. For foreigners being obliged to leave the country, such hardship commissions can recommend to grant the right to remain. The corresponding Interior Ministers of the federal states in question then take the final decision about such recommendations. According to the chairman of the commission of the federal state of Baden-Württemberg in Stuttgart, Edgar Wais, only 100 applications were filed in 2007, whereas in the year before the number still had amounted to 400. Also the Berlin hardship commission informed that in the past year the number of applications - amounting to 291 - was considerably lower than in 2006 (820 cases). Moreover, the commission in Stuttgart informed that the recommendation rate for granting the right to remain was currently higher than before, which was due to a better reasoning of the applications. Here, the emphasis of the applicants focused more on integration, said Wais.
dpa 28.12.07 // Berliner Morgenpost 27.01.08

Federal Administrative Court: Restrictions on free choice of place of residence of recognised refugees abolished

In its judgement of 15 January 2008, the Federal Administrative Court (BVerwG) of Leipzig has declared unlawful the restrictions on the free choice of the place of residence of recognised refugees, which was to help control the distribution of financial burdens caused by social welfare payments. In its reasoning it said that the restrictions contained in the Residence Act would constitute an infringement of the Geneva Refugee Convention (GRV), which grants refugees in principle the right of free movement. Restrictions on the free choice of the place of residence of refugees could be imposed, however, if the limits would be generally applied to all foreigners being in the same situation. Restrictions could be justified, for instance, by reasons of integration policy.
Press release of BVerfG 15.01.08

New internet portal for German minorities in Europe and Central Asia

Since 17 January 2008, a new internet portal is available online at, which offers information on German minorities and ethnic groups in 24 states of Europe and Central Asia. On the one hand, the joint internet site of the German minorities is to inform the general public about the existence of minorities, their sizes, structures, associations and current topics. On the other hand, the minorities are thereby given the opportunity to inform themselves about events, personalities, political demands and success stories.
Press release of BMI 17.01.08

Asylum statistics

In January 2008, a total of 2,397 persons has submitted a petition for political asylum in Germany, which is an increase by 89.5 per cent (+1,132 persons) compared to December 2007. Compared to January 2007, the number of asylum applicants has increased by 44.1 per cent (+734 persons). The main countries of origin in January were Iraq (959), Serbia (174), Turkey (123) and Vietnam (105) followed by the Russian Federation (101). In this month, the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees decided on the asylum applications of 2,164 persons. A total of 18 persons (0.8 per cent) were recognised to be entitled to political asylum, whereas 611 persons (28.5 per cent) were granted protection against deportation according to § 60, paragraph 1, Residence Act. The applications of 836 persons (38.9 per cent) were rejected. The cases of a further 641 persons (29.9 per cent) have been closed for other reasons (e.g. due to suspensions of asylum procedures because persons have withdrawn their applications).
Press release of BMI 08.02.08

January 2008

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