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efms Migration Report

January 2009

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Debate on admission of former Guantanamo prisoners

Both on EU as well as on national level politicians are currently discussing the possibility of admitting former inmates of the US detention camp in Guantanamo Bay on Cuba. Since the beginning of the "war on terror" under former US president George W. Bush, predominantly Islamistic terror suspects are being kept in the prison camp. When taking office on 20 January 2009, US President Barack Obama announced to close the camp within one year. To this end he signed a decree on 22 January 2009 which, inter alia, provides for the possibility of accommodating prisoners to be released in third countries. Due to the right to freedom of movement of persons within the EU, admitted prisoners could have access to other states than the admitting state. Therefore, the EU is seeking now a common position to be prepared if the US government asks individual EU Member States to admit former camp inmates to their territory. While at least seven of the 27 Member States, including Portugal, France, Luxembourg and Finland, have so far signalled their willingness to accept such inquiry, Austria, the Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark have refused to do so. According to the opinion of the latter states, the responsibility for the camp and the prisoners lies exclusively with the US themselves. At a meeting with his counterparts the German Minister of the Exterior, Frank Walter Steinmeier (SPD), however, reminded about demands of the EU in the past to close the camp due to infringements of international law and the human rights. It would be a question of credibility, if the EU supported the dissolution of the camp or not, said Steinmeier. Even though the Federal Government has not dismissed in principal the admittance of such persons, there is disagreement even within the individual political parties themselves. The Federal Minister of the Interior, Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU), the Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Hermann (CSU) and Berlin"s Senator of the Interior, Erhart Körting (SPD) expressed themselves against an admission due to the security concerns. Körting for example considered former Guantanamo prisoners as "potential attackers". In contrast, the chairman of the committee on foreign policy of the German Bundestag, Ruprecht Polenz (CDU), pointed out that there existed an obligation of solidarity towards the new US president, also in Germany"s own interest. He added, however, that only such inmates should be admitted who could provide evidence of having a "relation to Germany".
Spiegel online 22.01.09 // Die Welt 27.01.09 // FR 27.01.09 // taz 28.01.09

War in Middle East fuels anti-Semitism in Europe

Since Israel"s invasion of the Palestinian autonomous area of Gaza on 27 December 2008, anti-Semitic opinions can be increasingly observed in certain parts of the population throughout Europe. Particularly in France, which has the highest proportion of Muslim and Jewish inhabitants in Europe, but also in other European states such as Germany, Great Britain or the Netherlands anti-Semitism and criticism against Israel is increasingly expressed by a wide range of activities. According to Mark Gardener, spokesman of the Jewish organisation Community Security Trust (CST), the number of graffiti, insults and arson attacks against Judaism has shot up in Great Britain. While in 2008 the number of such incidents amounted to a total of 547, 225 incidents were recorded already in the past four weeks alone. Moreover, increasingly aggressive slogans such as "Palestine will live, Israel will croak" or others comparing Israel"s activities with those of the former National Socialist regime in Germany are being heard at demonstrations and conventions organised in support of Palestine. In this context, experts have identified more and more points of contact between the different groups pursuing anti Israeli activities. The common hate on Israel increasingly served as a melting pot for right and left wing extremists as well as Islamists, summarized the Hamburg-based political scientist Matthias Künzel this phenomenon.
Die Welt 14.01.09 // SZ 14.01.09 // KNA 15.01.09 // BZ 16.01.09 // Die Welt 28.01.09

Quarrels about registration of migration background in crime statistics

The initiative of the CSU party to record the migration background of criminal offenders in future in the statistics, triggered off controversial reactions in politics. The chairman of the CSU state group in the Parliament, Peter Ramsauer, has argued that a recording of the origin of criminal offenders would be useful since many immigrants meanwhile had obtained a German passport and because there would be no other way of recording the actual crime rate of migrants. The position of the CSU was backed by the President of the state of Lower Saxony, Christian Wulff (CDU) who said that only the recording of the migration background would allow an appropriate set-up of prevention programmes as well as the inclusion and sensitisation of migrant groups. Yet, Hamburg"s Senator of the Interior, Christoph Althaus (CDU), has already agreed with the Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Hermann (CSU) to establish a working group charged with the practical implementation to record such data. The initiative was criticised by the SPD, the Greens and the Left Party. Besides, however, the proposal was also rejected by CDU member and Integration Commissioner of the Federal Government Maria Böhmer who said that such an approach could send out wrong signals to migrants willing to integrate if the multiple grounds for criminality would not be considered at the same time. Besides the features "German" and "non-German", the feature "of non-German origin" has been registered from alleged offenders in Berlin since 1 October 2008 already.
Der Tagesspiegel 06.01.09 // FR 09.01.09 // Die Welt 10.01.09

New study fuels debate on integration of Turkish migrants

The findings of a new study of the Berlin-Institut für Bevölkerung und Entwicklung (Berlin Institute for Population and Development) according to which migrants of Turkish origin formed the immigration group that is least integrated triggered of harsh debates in politics and in the public. The study titled "Ungenutzte Potenziale - Zur Lage der Integration in Deutschland" (Unused potentials - About the situation of integration in Germany), based on data from the micro census of the year 2005, was aimed at capturing the degree to which different groups of migrants are successfully integrated inter alia by means of analysing the school leaving certificates, and to evaluate at the same time the integration services of the federal states and larger cities. According to the study, the three million Turkish immigrants in Germany have a considerably lower education level, are more frequently unemployed and less integrated into social life than other groups of migrants. One reason was the lower qualification of the migrants of Turkish origin who came to Germany as guest workers, according to the study. The younger generation showed in parts "little motivation to get educated". The Integration Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, Armin Laschet (CDU), said that in his point of view, most of the parents of Turkish origin indeed wished a good education of their children, yet there was a lack of a "social climber mentality". The Integration Commissioner of the Federal Government, Maria Böhmer (CDU), considered the findings of the study as "dramatic". The current situation, however, could be rather traced back to failings in the past, said Böhmer. Bekir Alboga, Islam scholar and dialogue commissioner of the main Mosque association Ditib, put in doubt, however, the meaningfulness of the findings: The failure of Turkish migrants first needed to be proven scientifically; in Germany, very exemplary people of Turkish origin could be found throughout all professions. A spokesman of the Centre for Turkish Studies (ZfT in its German abbreviation), Dirk Halm, warned that the unfavourable findings of the study about Turks living in Germany should not be used as an opportunity to open a kind of competition on integration between the different population groups, which would poison coexistence. Surprisingly good results were achieved by the largest group of immigrants in Germany: ethnic German immigrants (Aussiedler) from Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union often had relatively high school leaving certificates, would be seldom unemployed and the second generation integrated much better than the first.
FAZ 26.01.09 // BZ 26.01.09 // Tagesschau online 26.01.09

Federal Government wants to support Berlin schools

In reply to a so-called "urgent reminder letter" of school headmasters from Berlin"s Mitte district, the Integration Commissioner of the Federal Government, Maria Böhmer (CDU), announced to be willing to support the education at Berlin schools with 300 million euros originating from the support programme for the economy. In their letter the school headmasters of the districts of Tiergarten, Wedding and Moabit declared they could currently no longer fulfil their statutory task to provide education; the Mitte district was even facing an "educational blackout". The reason was said to be the fact that schools must cope with an increasing number of children from migrant families whose achievements often were insufficient and who were in many cases criminal. At the same time, an increasing number of educated parents sent their children to private schools. Besides the lack of funds, there would be also a lack of appropriate personnel. Even though the dealing with children from immigrant families was not more difficult compared to children of German origin, it was just different than most teachers have learned it at university, said school headmaster Hartmut Blees. Böhmer said she took the letter of the school masters as an opportunity to check to which extent the promise to provide more funds for schools with a high proportion of migrants made in the National Integration Plan has been kept.
Focus 19.01.09 // SZ 21.01.09 // FAZ 21.01.09

Berlin: Police facilitates recruitment procedures for migrants

The Berlin police wants to change the procedure of the recruitment tests in autumn in order to facilitate the access to the police service for applicants with a migration background. So far, many applicants of non-German origin have failed for not passing the German language test. Since the portion of immigrants living in Berlin is high, from autumn on particularly those applicants taking the recruitment test will be preferred who speak several languages and who are familiar with other cultures. Detective superintendent Helmut Stolz said the authority did not breach the constitutional principle of equal rights by employing the new recruitment procedure. The procedure would not benefit applicants with migration background but rather abolished obstacles.
BZ 08.01.09

Survey: early language training in kindergartens ineffective

According to a survey commissioned by the Foundation of the federal state of Baden-Württemberg, special language support courses for children with a migration background in preschool age do not contribute to an improvement of their language skills. Within the framework of the survey implemented by the teacher-training college (PH) of Heidelberg, almost 500 children were evaluated over a period of several years. The findings showed that children having language problems who are visiting normal kindergartens, i.e. without attending special language support courses, showed no larger lacks than the participants of special courses. Moreover, the survey revealed that educational advantages of children with good language skills could not have been outbalanced up to the end of the first and the second grade of primary schools. The scientists found one reason for the little effect in the inappropriate form of the language support courses for children. Jeanette Roos, member of the group of scientists in charge, said the courses often were designed like the classes taught at school. The children were hardly given the chance to express themselves orally. Children of these ages, however, needed to talk a lot in order to feel how a language is used in correct manner. This, however, required more academically trained personnel, according to Roos.
SZ 19.01.09

Annual asylum statistics 2008

From January until December 2008 a total of 22,085 persons lodged an asylum application in Germany. For the first time since 2001, the number of asylum applicants increased compared to the previous year. Compared to 2007, the increase amounted to 15.2 per cent (+ 2,921). The main countries of origin in 2008 were Iraq (6,836), Turkey (1,408), Vietnam (1,042) and Kosovo (879) followed by Iran (815). In this year, the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees decided on 20,817 asylum applications. A total of 7,291 persons (35 per cent) were recognised as refugees under the Geneva Refugee Convention. These included 233 persons (1.1 per cent) who were recognised as entitled to asylum under Art. 16a of the German Basic Law, and 7,058 persons (33.9 per cent) protected under § 3 of the Asylum Procedure Act in conjunction with § 60 (1) of the Residence Act. The applications of 6,761 persons (32.5 per cent) were rejected. The cases of a further 6,203 persons (29.8 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 the BMI 13.01.09

Asylum statistics

In January 2009, a total of 2,342 persons submitted an application for political asylum in Germany, which is an increase of 51.6 per cent (+797 applicants) over December 2008. Compared to January 2008, the number of asylum applicants decreased by 2.3 per cent (-55 applicants). The main countries of origin in January were Iraq (781), Afghanistan (240), Vietnam (143) and Turkey (130) followed by Kosovo (97). In this month, the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees decided on 1,754 asylum applications. A total of 539 persons (30.7 per cent) were recognised as entitled to asylum under the Geneva Refugee Convention. These included 29 persons (1.6 per cent) who were recognised as entitled to asylum under Art. 16a of the German Basic Law, and 510 persons (29.1 per cent) protected under § 3 of the Asylum Procedure Act in conjunction with § 60 (1) of the Residence Act. The applications of 647 persons (36.9 per cent) were rejected. The cases of a further 510 persons (29.1 per cent) have been closed for other reasons (e.g. due to suspensions of asylum procedures because persons have withdrawn their applications).
Pressemitteilung BMI 12.02.09

January 2009

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