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efms Migration Report

June 2001

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SPD position on immigration reform still unclear

The SPD has stated that it is still aiming at a consensus with opposition parties on immigration reform and has reiterated its willingness to compromise, but the party won't present any proposals of its own until the Suessmuth Commission has published its recommendations. However, Federal Interior Minister Schily has announced some of the fundamentals of the planned comprehensive reform of immigration, asylum and foreigners' law. Schily pointed out that the recommendations of the Suessmuth Commission, some of which have already been made public, are congruent with the proposals put forward by the CDU Commission headed by Peter Mueller. In the meantime, the SPD parliamentary party is working on its own position paper, whose proposals on refugee protection and family reunification are more liberal than Schily's position. There are marked differences within the party as to whether victims of non-governmental persecution should be entitled to political asylum. Whereas parts of the SPD (and its Green coalition partner) support improvements in the protection of such victims of non-governmental persecution - in accordance with European standards-, Interior Minister Schily has vehemently denied that the respective group of refugees "lacks protection" under German asylum law. His clear rejection of similar demands by Ruud Lubbers, the UN High Commission for Refugees, has attracted criticism from his own party, the Greens and representatives of asylum, human-rights and church groups.
FAZ 2.6.01 // dpa 20.6.01 // FR 21.6.01 // dpa 24.6.01 // SZ 25.6.01 // FAZ 26.6.01 // FR 26.6.01 // FR 27.6.01 // SZ 29.6.01

CDU refuses to hold preliminary talks with the government on immigration reform

The CDU has demanded that the SPD/The Greens government coalition make clear their position on the planned reform of immigration law. The CDU has announced its willingness to enter into parliamentary negotiations on the basis of its own position paper on immigration and the bill the red-green coalition is planning to introduce in parliament, but has refused to participate in extra-parliamentary preliminary talks offered by the SPD in order to reach a consensus on immigration policy. Consequently, there is an increased risk that the immigration issue could become part of next year's election campaign for the Bundestag, the federal parliament. At a CDU party conference, party representatives have endorsed the proposals presented by the CDU commission on immigration, headed by Peter Mueller, which are entitled: "Regulating and limiting immigration - Fostering integration".
FAZ 5.6.01 // SZ 5.6.01 // Spiegel Online 7.6.01 // NZ 8.6.01 // FR 11.6.01 // Welt 14.6.01

Alliance 90 / The Greens seek consensus

Representatives of the Green party have expressed their willingness to reach a consensus with its coalition partner, the SPD, in the debate on immigration reform. However, Claudia Roth, one of the party's two federal spokespersons, has made it clear that her party is going to insist on achieving improvements for refugees, as her party is not willing to "be on the losing side" of immigration reform. The Greens have also agreed to set up an "advisory commission on immigration", a panel of experts which is to advise the party in the upcoming reform of immigration law. This panel is to consist of twelve persons, including Claudia Roth herself, Kerstin Müller, spokesperson of the Green parliamentary party, Marieluise Beck, the Federal Government Commissioner for Foreigners and Integration, Daniel Cohn-Bendit, a member of the European Parliament and Cem Oezdemir, the Greens' parliamentary spokesperson for domestic policy. The party's main demands focus on improving the protection of asylum applicants (especially abolishing the "lack of protection" for victims of non-governmental and gender-specific persecution) and additional programmes to further integration. Foreign Government Commissioner Beck has called on the Federal Government to provide more federal funds for additional integration measures, especially language courses.
Die Grünen homepage 13.6.01 // FAZ 15.6.01 // FR 16.6.01

Demands to include "illegals" in migration reform

In view of the current debate on immigration reform and the expected results of the Suessmuth-Commission, there has been widespread criticism that so far no recommendations have been put forward for improving the situation of "illegal migrants". Following critical remarks by the German Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Jesuit Refugee Service, which have both called for legal and social improvements, the Council for Migration, an expert panel on immigration issues, has underlined the urgency of including the issue of illegal migration in the current debate. In a resolution, the Council for Migration has demanded that the status of "illegals" can, under certain circumstances, be legalised, as some of the "illegals" are in heavy demand by the German labour market and should therefore not be treated as criminals. CDU politician Christian Scharz-Schilling has expressed similar views, stating that individual cases should be judged on their own merit instead of immediately deporting all persons without valid documents.
taz 2.6.01 // dpa 5.6.01 // FR 6.6.01 // taz 6.6.01 // dpa 28.6.01

North Rhine-Westphalia presents integration programme

The state of North Rhine-Westphalia has presented an integration programme aimed at fostering integration through mandatory language courses. In a resolution passed by all four parliamentary parties represented in North Rhine-Westphalia's state legislature (SPD, Greens, CDU and FDP), immigrants are promised an improved residence status, shorter naturalisation waiting periods and better access to the German labour market if they successfully participate in German language courses. Persons unwilling to participate in such courses are not to be sanctioned. Harald Schartau (SPD), North Rhine-Westphalia's Labour Minister, has called on the Federal Government to provide additional funds for language programmes for migrants.
SZ 20.6.01 // Welt 28.6.01

Central Jewish Council wants to check the origin of Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe

The Central Jewish Council in Germany has demanded that the origin of Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe should be checked more thoroughly, as many of the so-called "contingent refugees" entering Germany, though possessing proof of their Jewish origin, cannot be considered as "real" Jews according to Jewish law. Under Jewish law, the prerequisite is either having a Jewish mother or being a convert. In future, German consulates should therefore closely co-operate with the Central Council in order to check the Jewish origin of applicants.
FR 7.6.01

Church asylum has protected 1,500 people against deportation

A survey presented by the Federal Ecumenical Study Group "Asylum in Church" has come to the conclusion that the so-called "church asylum" has protected approximately 1,500 persons against deportation over the last five years, with more than 200 church communities all over the country offering shelter. Two thirds of the refugees seeking shelter in churches have been Turkish nationals, mainly of Kurdish origin. In 73% of all cases deportations could be prevented through church asylum, as refugees were subsequently recognised as entitled to political asylum or as protected against deportation. In 16% of all cases authorities and courts of law have conceded that asylum decisions have been flawed.
dpa 20.6.01 // FR 21.6.01

Aussiedler statistics (2001, first half-year)

A total of 48,415 Aussiedler (ethnic German immigrants) and family members have been registered in Germany in the first half-year of 2001, compared to 44,815 persons during the same period of the previous year (an increase of 7.5%). According to Jochen Welt, the Federal Government Commissioner for Aussiedler, this small increase is due to normal fluctuations in the course of a year. He expects that the total number of entries will not exceed 100,000 persons, similar to previous years. However, the number of new applications has been decreasing steadily: whereas 61,432 applications were submitted during the first six months of 2000, numbers have decreased by 32% for the same period this year (41,900 applications). As the proportion of family members (without an Aussiedler status of their own) entering Germany has significantly increased, Welt has recommended that this group should be required to prove their German language skills in future.
Berlin Online 12.7.01

Asylum statistics

During the first six months of 2001, the number of asylum applications has reached 40,783, an increase of 13.4% over the same period of the previous year. Whereas numbers had been decreasing in 2000, this year has witnessed the first increase for several years. According to Otto Schily (SPD), Federal Minister of the Interior, this increase has underlined the urgency of an immigration reform aimed as limiting and regulating migration inflows. In June 2001, 6,609 new applications have been submitted, a decrease of 4.9% over the previous month; compared to June 2000, however, the number has increased by 15%. The main countries of origin still are Iraq, Turkey and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The Federal Office for the Recognition of Foreign Refugees has passed decisions on 7,401 applications in June, with 332 applicants (4.5%) having been recognised as entitled to political asylum, and 12.2% being protected against deportation according to Art.51 Par.1 Foreigners Act. 57.4% of applications have been rejected.
Press release BMI 6.7.01 // FAZ 7.7.01

June 2001

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