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efms Migration Report

June 1997

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Debate on citizenship law and immigration law continues

In a Bundestag debate on June 5 concerning the draft of a bill presented by the Green Party and proposals by the SPD for developing more liberal policies on foreigners and an immigration law, the political parties maintained the positions which had become familiar in the previous months. The Green Party, the SPD, FDP and parts of the CDU call for relaxing the citizenship law and allowing double citizenship. The majority of CDU and CSU members do not wish to discuss these reform proposals. The positions regarding immigration law ran along similar lines. Representatives of the government parties announced that they would introduce a bill to reform the citizenship law to the Bundestag before the end of this legislative session.
SZ 2.6.97 // Welt 6.6.97 // SZ 6.6.97 // FAZ 6.6.97 // FR 7.6.97 // dpa 8.6.97

Return of Vietnamese Refugees delayed

According to Undersecretary of the Interior Ministry Kurt Schelter, two years after the conclusion of the agreement between Bonn and Hanoi to repatriate Vietnamese refugees, only 2,500 deportations have actually taken place and 700 Vietnamese have returned voluntarily. The implementation of the agreement, in the view of the government in Bonn, leaves much to be desired. According to the agreement, 7,500 Vietnamese should have returned to their home country by the end of 1996. Schelter blames the delays on the conduct of the authorities in Hanoi.
SZ 2.6.97

Schleswig-Holstein: Commissioner for Refugees at the Landtag

A bill of the parliamentary majority (SPD and the Green Party) in the Landtag of Schleswig-Holstein provides for the appointment of a Landtag commissioner to deal with refugee, asylum and immigration questions as of 1998. The commissioner is to perform educational functions, provide information to individuals, families and institutions as well as collaborate on legislative proposals.
dpa 3.6.97

Schleswig-Holstein advocates local vote for non-EU foreigners

The government of Schleswig-Holstein has passed a Bundesrat proposal to introduce the right to vote in local elections for all foreigners. According to a speaker from the interior ministry in Kiel, the bill provides for amending the Basic Law (Grundgesetz) to allow the regional Landtags to grant the right to vote to non EU citizens. Hessen, Niedersachsen, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Saarland and Sachsen-Anhalt will support the initiative which also finds favor in Brandenburg, Hamburg and Rheinland-Pfalz. The proposal, however, met with criticism in Bayern.
dpa 3.6.97 // FR 4.6.97

Federal Constitutional Court: no freedom of travel for asylum seekers

According to a ruling of the Federal Constitutional Court, the restrictions on travel for asylum applicants contained in the Asylum Procedure Law of 1991 does not violate the Basic Law. Asylum applicants are assigned a region for residence which they will not, as a rule, be allowed to leave. The Second Court concluded unanimously that this restriction does not violate the basic rights of asylum applicants since they will be allowed to leave the region in exceptional cases.
FR 5.6.97 // SZ 5.6.97 // NN 5.6.97 // FAZ 5.6.97

Federal Administrative Court: right to residence without visa

In a ruling on June 5 the Federal Administrative Court stated that asylum applicants may enjoy residence rights in Germany for the duration of their proceedings even when they have entered Germany without a visa. The judges stated that residence during proceedings was a privilege which ended when the application was rejected. Thus the court restrains the current practice of authorities who generally refuse the right of residence to asylum seekers entering Germany without a visa.
Welt 6.6.97 // SZ 6.6.97 // FR 6.6.97

IMK: No deportations to the Republic of Srpska

At its meeting of June 6 in Bonn, the Permanent Conference of the Interior Ministers of the Länder (IMK) decided that the approximately 150,000 Bosnian refugees whose home regions lie in Serb-controlled areas will be temporarily exempted from deportation. Based on assessments of the Foreign Office and international aid organizations the interior ministers came to the conclusion that the repatriation of Muslims and Croats to the so-called Serbian Republic (Republic Srpska) calls for particular sensitivity. The ministers plan to retain the principle of voluntary return and to appoint a coordinator for the return of refugees.
FAZ 7.6.97 // SZ 7.6.97

Negotiations over the return of Lebanese refugees

The German government is now negotiating with the Lebanese government on a repatriation agreement involving some 22,000 individuals who fled the civil war in Lebanon before 1990. Approximately 60,000 Lebanese currently reside in Germany. Some 16,000 Lebanese and 6,000 stateless individuals in possession of Lebanese travel documents would be affected by the deportation plans.
dpa 10.6.97 // taz 11.6.97 // taz 18.6.97

CDU calls for curtailing employment of non-EU foreigners

The socialpolicy task force of the CDU parliamentary group has formulated a statement which calls for radical measures to limit the access of non-EU newcomers to Germany to the German labor market. In their paper they argue that foreigners who have been living either permanently or for a lengthy period in Germany are not at fault for the critical situation of the labor market. However, legal and illegal immigration from third countries was causing considerable problems. For this reason the quotas for Aussiedler should be lowered and the number of foreign seasonal workers reduced.
FAZ 14.6.97 // FR 16.6.97

No work permits for asylum applicants

According to a Federal Labor Ministry directive, asylum applicants who entered after May 15 are not to receive work permits. The Labor Ministry has instructed all employment offices to reject such applications without further investigation. As reasons for the measure, the ministry cited the high rate of unemployment and new regulations which oblige receivers of unemployment benefits to accept temporary jobs. As a result of these regulations, which have been valid since April 1, the labor market now disposes of a sufficient number of Germans to fill any vacant positions. The Federal Government Commissioner for Foreigners, Cornelia Schmalz-Jacobsen, found the directive "incomprehensible" as asylum seekers only took jobs for which no one else was available.
dpa 18.6.1996 // FR 20.6.97

Bayern must accept multiple citizenship

The 25th Division of the Administrative Court in Munich has obliged the government of Oberbayern to naturalize two Iranian refugees, a married couple who have been residing in Bavaria for over 15 years. Bayern had refused to naturalize them as Iran does not release opponents of the regime from Iranian citizenship. The Administrative Court ruled that under these conditions Bayern must naturalize the couple and accept the resultant multiple citizenship. In this ruling the court acted in accordance with Federal Administrative Court decisions.
SZ 18.6.97

Bundestag approves amendments to Aliens Law

Parliamentarians of the CDU/CSU, SPD and FDP voted to pass the amendments to the Aliens Law negotiated in the mediation committee. In an open ballot, 424 parliament members voted in favor and 102 against the amendments. There were 99 abstentions. Deportating alien offenders will now be easier. Anyone sentenced to more than three years imprisonment will have to leave Germany. Participants in demonstrations which are either illegal or have been disbanded by the police are to be deported without court action. Foreign wives, in cases of divorce, will obtain an independent residence permit whereby the three-year time limit may be waived in hardship cases such as spouse or child abuse. Wives who depend on welfare benefits, however, can still be deported.
dpa 26.6.97 // FAZ 27.6.97 // NN 27.6.97

Statistics on aliens

At the end of 1996, according to the Federal Office of Statistics, 7.3 million foreigners were living in Germany. One in eleven German residents was a foreign citizen. According to the same statistics, half of the foreign residents have been living in Germany for more than ten years, and a fourth for over twenty years. The two million Turkish residents constitute the largest group of foreigners. Some 25 % of foreign residents are from EU states. In comparison to the last statistical survey of 1991, there has been an increase of 1.4 million foreigners living in Germany.
FAZ 20.6.97

Aussiedler numbers decline

The Federal Commissioner for ethnic German immigrants (Aussiedler), Horst Waffenschmidt, announced that 71,000 ethnic German immigrants from Eastern Europe came to Germany in the first half of 1997, or 12,000 fewer than in the same period of the previous year. He attributes the decline to the introduction of a language test in which Aussiedler are required to demonstrate their proficiency in German.
Welt 2.7.97

Asylum statistics

The number of petitions for asylum in Germany declined appreciably in the first half of 1997. According to the Federal Ministry of the Interior, there were 52,588 petitions registered between January and June of this year. That is the lowest level since the first six months of 1988. In comparison to the same period in 1996, the number of petitions for asylum dropped by eight percent. The main countries of origin were Turkey, Irak and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The majority of asylum seekers from Turkey and Irak are Kurds who make up a third of all asylum seekers. In the first six months of 1997 the Federal Office for the Recognition of Foreign Refugees decided on 90,922 petitions. Of these, 4,926 were recognized as entitled to asylum, and 5,465 persons were awarded exemption from deportation.
dpa 29.6.97 // SZ 5.7.97 // BMI Press Announcement 4.7.97

June 1997

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