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efms Migration Report

September 2008

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OECD: Germany in need of more immigration

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has recommended Germany to pursue a long-term immigration policy that takes into consideration future work force needs. Two working papers published recently by the OECD ("International Migration Outlook", "Education at a glance") have revealed that Germany will no longer be able to employ a restrictive migration policy against the background of a work force pool that is expect to decline soon. According to the OECD, the portion of this work force pool of the overall population will decline by 2.5 per cent until 2020. At the same time, the number of persons migrating to Germany is declining: In contrast to the increase of the number of immigrants by an average of 5 per cent registered in the OECD area in 2006 compared to the previous year, this number declined in Germany by 216,000 or 11 per cent over the same period. Therefore, a work force shortage in Germany can hardly be avoided and will increasingly pose problems, according to the OECD. The work force shortage could have a negative impact particularly in the low-wage sector. Already today there would be shortages in areas such as the catering trade or the health care for elderly persons. But also in the international competition for qualified workers Germany would keep losing ground. Germany was hardly successful in attracting and retaining highly qualified workers while at the same time an increasing number of Germans left their home country.
FTD 10.09.08 // Die Welt 10.09.08 // BZ 11.09.08 // Die Welt 11.09.08

EU: Decision on admittance of Iraqi refugees adjourned again

On the occasion of a conference in Brussels on 25 September 2008, the Ministers responsible for Justice and Home Affairs adjourned again their decision on the admittance of refugees from Iraq until the end of November. First of all, a delegation comprising representatives of the EU and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) wants to gather on site-information on the situation of the minorities in the reception facilities in Syria and Jordan, the two countries neighbouring Iraq. Representatives of the Churches, refugee organisations and from politics in Germany appealed to the Federal Government to take an own decision irrespective of the decision of the EU Ministers. Federal Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU) explained the hesitating position by arguing that the efforts of Iraq to try to make people return to the country should not be undermined. At the beginning of the year, Schäuble expressed himself in favour of admitting particularly Iraqi Christians throughout Europe. Following a visit of the Iraqi prime minister, Dschawad al Maliki, however, he revoked his position. On the occasion of the conference also elements of the Pact on Immigration and Asylum were agreed, which will be adopted in November.
FAZ 22.09.08 // BZ 24.09.08 // Die Welt 24.09.08 // Press release of Pro Asyl 25.09.08 // dpa 25.09.08 // FR 26.09.08 // KNA 26.09.08

First European Roma summit

Following an invitation of the European Commission and the French Council Presidency, the first European Roma summit took place in Brussels in September 2008. It was attended by 500 representatives of EU institutions, governments, organisations of the civil society, of the ethnic group of Roma and numerous representatives of the media. They talked about improvements of the living conditions of the 10 to 12 million European Roma (the figures are inconsistent). The president of the EU Commission, Manuel Barroso, said that the living conditions of the Roma "marked by poverty, social exclusion and discrimination" could not be accepted in the 21st century. The EU Commissioner responsible for Social Affairs, Vladimir Spidla, explained the need behind the initiative by saying that the Roma would be the only minority in Europe that collectively suffered discrimination. They would be disadvantaged in their access to accommodation, education, labour and health care services. Despite the fact that there were sufficient financing concepts and integration tools, their implementation was insufficient. Romani Rose, chairman of the Central Council of Sinti and Roma in Germany, called for stricter EU measures to fight racist attacks against Roma. Moreover, the general fingerprinting and photographing of members of this ethnic group, as it is practiced in Italy and tolerated by the EU, was sharply criticised. In contrast, the integration policy as it has been practiced in Finland for many years, was given positive consideration during the summit. For 100 years there would a representation of interests of the Roma in the country, the integration of children to school would be successful and constant consultations between representatives of the Roma as well as the government and the local authorities contributed to this success, according to the Finish Roma representative Miranda Vuolasrantas. The organisers of the EU summit were sharply criticised for the fact that they had forgotten to invite an interpreter for the Romani language, which is considered by many to be their mother tongue.
Süddeutsche Zeitung 17.9.2008 // Tageszeitung 18.9.2008 // Das Parlament 22.9.2008

Survey: Number of children abandoned by labour migrants on the rise

According to a survey of the Foundation for European Law, about 100,000 Polish children are left by their parents in their home villages while one or both of them worked in another European country. These "EU orphans" are considered to constitute a growing social problem since lonely and traumatised children whose contact to their parents has been considerably reduced or even stopped could meanwhile be found in almost all kindergartens and schools. Also an increase in juvenile delinquency could be observed. Many children would depend on relatives or on themselves. The indifference of the politicians would be particularly disappointing, said the chairman of the Foundation, Piotr Bajohr. Instead of offering these children help, the standard excuse would rather be that such problem did not exist at all.
Die Tageszeitung 24.9.2008

Naturalisation tests introduced

The ordinance of the Federal Ministry of the Interior governing the implementation of naturalisation tests has entered into force on 1 September. In this test, immigrants must provide evidence of their knowledge of the German legal and social system before being naturalised. The multiple choice test comprises 33 questions out of a pool of 310 questions. Of these, 17 questions must be answered correctly within one hour in order to pass the test. Language skills on the first level of an independent ability to understand and use the language are required. The Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) is primarily responsible for the implementation of the ordinance. The BAMF commissioned the adult education centres of the Volkshochschule with the implementation of the preparation courses and the language tests. However, the BAMF reserves the right to choose the questions to be answered and to evaluate the tests. According to critics, this approach has extended the naturalisation procedure to two to three months. Also the wording of the questions was criticised. Sebastian Edathy, politician and member of the SPD party, said that many questions were misunderstandable or superfluous and the test itself was "of a very poor quality". Josef Winkler of the Green party added that the naturalisation test "was a sign expressing mistrust and the will to deter applicants". However, the advantages of one common test throughout Germany have been recognised as well.
Federal Government online 01.09.2008 // Frankfurter Rundschau 6.9.2008 // Das Parlament 08.09.2008

Federal government to abolish the obligation to register at schools

The grand coalition made up of the Union parties and the SPD plans to release teachers from their duty to inform the foreigners" authorities about children who live illegally in Germany. With regard to the right on education stipulated in the Children"s Rights Convention of the UN, the Churches and refugee organisations have been demanding for many years to release public institutions from their obligation to inform the authorities. The initiative has become possible following an opinion shift in the Union parties, which previously had refused to take such step. Meanwhile, the Union parties have come to the realisation that children could not be made responsible for the decision and the living conditions of their parents, said CDU member Reinhard Grindel who added that the removal of the obligation to inform the authorities had to be limited to school attendance and should not be extended to general practitioners or social workers. The implementation of the initiative, however, still needs the approval of the federal states.
taz 24.09.08

First conference of the integration commissioners and ministers of the federal states

For the first time, the integration commissioners of the federal states met in Hanover on 30 September 2008 to hold an expert conference on the subject of integration. The meeting, which will be held on a regular basis from now on, is particularly to serve as a platform to align measures taken in the integration policy. The integration senator of Berlin, Heidi Knake-Werner (of the Left party) said that the aim would be to reach in the integration policy more reliability also with the Federal Government. At the moment, particularly the topics of naturalisation policy and double citizenship would be in the focus of the talks.
taz online 30.09.08

Debate on cancellation of anti-Islamisation congress

The cancellation at short notice of a planned "anti-Islamisation congress" on the Heumarkt square in Cologne triggered off a debate on restrictions of the freedom of assembly and speech. Following riots of autonomous left-wing extremists, the police cancelled the congress arguing it could not guarantee the safety of the participants of the congress and the about 5,000 peaceful demonstrators. The anti-Islamic "citizens" movement" Pro Köln had invited representatives of right-wing populist parties from all over Europe to attend the convention planned from 19- 20 September 2008. Among the invited were members of the Belgium Vlaams Belang, the Austrian FPÖ party, the Italian Lega Nord as well as the French Front National. Among other things the convention was aimed at creating the basis for the foundation of a European right-wing party. Pro Köln called the incident a "disastrous failure of the police" and announced to bring an action before the administrative court. Some experts expressed themselves very critical about the cancellation of the congress. The expert in constitutional law Prof. Josef Isensee said for example that the prohibition of the demonstration constituted an infringement of the freedom of speech and of assembly. The police was not to act as a censor of opinions but rather had to guarantee peaceful framework conditions for the expression of opposed opinions side by side and that every one can exercise his or her rights. Representatives of the political parties welcomed the cancellation almost unanimously considering it a "victory of the citizens" courage", as it was expressed by the prime minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, Jürgen Rütgers (CDU).
taz 19.09.08 // Die Welt 21.09.08 // Die Welt 23.09.08 // Die Zeit 25.09.08

Struggle for religious interpretation competence - KRM dissociates itself from professor for Islam

The Coordination Council of the Muslims (KRM, in its German abbreviation) has withdrawn its support to the Centre for Religious Studies (CRS) at the University of Münster. There, also teachers for Islamic instruction classes are being trained. By arguing there was a discrepancy between the principles of the Islamic doctrine and the positions published by the Chair of the CRS and scholar of Islam, Sven Muhammad Kalisch, the KRM, an umbrella organisation of Islamic religious associations in Germany, cancelled its participation in the advisory council of the CRS. Moreover, the KRM announced to stop recommending studies at the CRS. In detail, the KRM criticised the doubts of the academic about the historic existence of the prophet Muhammad and about Koran as God"s direct word on Earth. In reply, Kalisch said that one of the big challenges for Islam today consisted of the dealing with modern historical-critical methods. It would be regrettable that Islamic associations did not want to face this challenge. His own task, however, would be to enable the students to critically reflect things and to think independently, said Kalisch. Nonetheless he agreed with the university"s management to no longer train future teachers for Islamic instruction classes. More than 80 academics, authors and representatives of religious groups expressed themselves in support of Kalisch: In a declaration of solidarity they reproached the KRM to dissociate itself from an "open and indepedent science" and to "let pass by a historical chance of shaping the future of Islam and the society in Germany with a man who carried hopes".
Council 08.09.08 // FR 12.09.08 Die Welt online 13.09.08 // Der Spiegel online 22.09.08 // Focus 22.09.08 // NZ 22.09.08 // FAZ 27.09.98

Number of naturalisations further declining

According to the Federal Statistical Office, the number of persons who acquired the German citizenship in 2007 has further declined. Since its peak value of 186,700 naturalised persons in 2000, the figure has almost continuously fallen to reach 113,000 in the previous year. The new German citizens are coming particularly from Turkey (25 per cent), Serbia and Montenegro (9.3 per cent), Poland (4.8 per cent), the Ukraine (3.9 per cent) and Iraq (3.6 per cent). The portion of Turkish citizens of the naturalised persons has declined considerably over the past seven years and has fallen from 44.4 per cent to 25 per cent. The federal states with the largest number of naturalised persons are North Rhine-Westphalia followed by Hesse, Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg.
OVB 05.09.08 // Destatis press release of 03.07.08

Asylum statistics

In September 2008, a total of 1,965 persons have submitted a petition for political asylum in Germany. This is an increase of 18.4 per cent (+306 persons) over the month before and also compared to September 2007 with an increase of 10.9 per cent (+194 persons). The main countries of origin in September were Iraq (615), Turkey (107), Vietnam (98), Kosovo (97) followed by Afghanistan (88). In September, the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees decided on 1,743 asylum applications. A total of 674 persons (38.7 per cent) were recognised as refugees under the Geneva Refugee Convention. These included 12 persons (0.7 per cent) who were recognised as entitled to asylum under Art. 16a of the German Basic Law, and 662 persons (38 per cent) protected under § 3 of the Asylum Procedure Act in conjunction with § 60 (1) of the Residence Act. The applications of 520 persons (29.8 per cent) have been rejected. The cases of a further 495 persons (28.4 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 14.10.08

September 2008

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