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efms Migration Report

May 2001

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EU Agreement on minimum standards for entry of civil-war refugees

EU Interior and Justice Ministers have been able to reach a first agreement in their negotiations on harmonising European asylum policies. The agreement calls for minimum standards concerning the entry of civil-war refugees into the EU, and obliges EU member states to allow the entry of refugees in case of civil-war refugee crises. However, the agreement does not include fixed quotas as demanded by Germany. In addition, EU member states will also decide individually on whether to grant a residence status (limited to a period of up to three years) to family members of refugees. But civil-war refugees will be entitled to work and receive social benefits during their stay. Furthermore, agreement has been reached on imposing prison sentences of at least six years on persons convicted of human smuggling.
Spiegel 28.5.01 // FAZ 30.5.01

Opposition parties present joint paper on immigration and integration

One week after the CDU federal executive issued a comprehensive proposal on immigration and integration, based on the work of the party's immigration commission headed by Saarland premier Peter Mueller, Bavaria's CSU joined its sister party on May 10 in issuing a joint position paper of both parties on "regulating and limiting immigration". The paper emphasises that Germany does not constitute a "classic" country of immigration. However, it acknowledges the fact and necessity of immigration, but stops short of considering immigration as a possible cure for imminent demographic changes. According to the paper, the focus of future immigration policies should be to regulate and limit migration inflows in accordance with Germany's national interests and German society's potential for integrating foreigners. As for asylum seekers, the paper stresses that as the majority of asylum seekers abuse the right to political asylum, asylum procedures should be streamlined and deportation enforced more rigorously in order to achieve a significant reduction of asylum cases. If other measures prove to be insufficient in reaching that goal, Germany's constitutional right to political asylum should be transformed into a mere institutional guarantee. Additionally, the paper calls for sharing burdens equally among EU member states, and rejects the EU Commission's proposals on harmonising asylum policies. Concerning family reunification, CDU and CSU are in favour of lowering the age up to which children of non-German residents are entitled to join their parents in Germany from 16 to 10 years. As for labour migration, the two parties are willing to accept temporary inflows of foreign labour for vacancies that cannot be filled by German applicants. To this end, annual quotas are to be set and foreign applicants are to be selected according to a point system (based on age, qualification, occupation, German language skills, guaranteed employment, job experience in Germany, personal merit). There should also be a bonus system for applicants from countries applying for EU membership, for highly-qualified experts, investors and executives. For the purpose of integration, immigrants are also expected to learn German, respect German law and accept the values of German society (however, the paper does not use the term "Leitkultur" or leading culture). Everything should be done to prevent the development of "parallel societies". Integration courses focusing on the German language and the fundamentals of German law and society should be mandatory for immigrants. If migrants attend these integration courses, they are to be rewarded (by improving their residence status or work permit), if they, however, refuse to do so, they are to be sanctioned (e.g. by impairing their residence status or by losing entitlements for state benefits). Participants are expected to pay for these courses out of their own pocket, and companies employing foreign labour are to participate in the programme. 10.5.01 // Die Welt 11.5.01

Federal Government seeks consensus on immigration

The positions of the SPD and the CDU/CSU bloc on the controversial issue of a new immigration law seem to be converging. Federal Interior Minister Otto Schily (SPD) has stated that many aspects of the CDU position paper on immigration are congruent with the position of the SPD and the suggestions of the Suessmuth Commission that have already become public, thus making a consensus among government and opposition parties possible. According to Dieter Wiefelspütz, domestic policy spokesman of the SPD parliamentary party, the red-green government coalition is planning to present a comprehensive proposal on immigration before the summer recess of parliament and pass legislation before next year's election campaign begins. However, there is still disagreement among coalition parties, especially concerning the question of asylum. The Greens demand that persons subject to non-governmental or gender-specific persecution should be entitled to asylum, a position rejected by Interior Minister Schily. The SPD, on the other hand, has stressed that inflows of labour should be limited to highly qualified experts, giving priority to qualifying and retraining the large number of unemployed residents of Germany.
FAZ 19.5.01 // Spiegel online 27.5.01 // Spiegel 28.5.01 // SZ 28.5.01 // Spiegel online 29.5.01 // SZ 29.5.01 // FAZ 30.5.01 // SZ 30.5.01

Interior Ministers allow Kosovar refugees to stay

Germany's Federal and State Interior Ministers have reached an agreement at their conference on 11th May 2001 to allow refugees from Kosovo to stay in Germany. The agreement is similar to the one for Bosnian refugees passed in February: It grants a two-year residence entitlement to refugees that have been residents of Germany for six years and have been permanently employed for at least two years. Other requirements are that refugees and their families have sufficient accomodation, are not dependent on welfare and have not been convicted of a crime. According to Interior Ministers, approximately 130,000 refugees from Kosovo are still residents of Germany. Federal Interior Minister Schily has emphasised that the majority of refugees from the former Yugoslavia will be required to return to their home countries, even though part of them have been economically and socially integrated.
Spiegel 7.5.01 // FAZ 11.5.01

Bundesrat rejects extension of naturalisation for children of foreign residents

The Bundesrat, the upper house of Parliament representing the Laender at the federal level, has rejected a government proposal to extend the period for naturalising foreign children under ten years and to lower respective administrative fees. The Federal Government has proposed to extend the period for another two years - according to the naturalisation law passed in January 2000, the term has expired at the end of December 2000 - and to lower the administrative fee from DM 500 to DM 100. The Bundesrat has refused to concur, arguing that the regulations for naturalising children have proved to be superfluous, with too few applications being submitted. According to official statistics, applications have been submitted for only 10% of the children of foreign nationals entitled under the law. The government's proposal has now been sent to Parliament's conference committee for further deliberations.
taz 12.5.01 // FR 12.5.01 // FR 17.5.01

Asylum applicants protest against "residency restriction"

About 300 asylum applicants are meeting in Berlin on 18th May 2001 for a three-day protest demonstration demanding the abolition of residency restrictions for asylum seekers. Since 1982, asylum seekers whose applications have not been decided on are not allowed to leave the district they have been allocated to without special permission by local authorities. The demonstrators are planning to travel to Berlin without such a permission, in what they call an "act of civil disobedience". In a memorandum they are going to hand over to an MP of the Greens, they demand the abolition of restrictions on their freedom of movement, as they consider the current regulation as a violation of human dignity.
taz 14.5.01 // taz 18.5.01 // FR 18.5.01 // Spiegel Online 19.5.01

Catholic bishops speak up on behalf of illigal immigrants

In a memorandum called "Living illegally", the German Conference of Bishops demands that the topic of illegal immigration be included in the current debate on immigration reform. According to Cardinal Sterzinsky, the Catholic Bishops have so far been alone in their efforts to present a comprehensive analysis of the issue, while authorities have failed to act. Sterzinsky has warned against equating illegals with criminals, as their immigration has to be seen as a reaction to the "demands of the shadow labour market in Germany". The Bishops call for "minimum social standards" and "guaranteed rights" for human beings without valid papers, such as the right of their children to attend school, access to health care and the possibility to legally defend themselves against exploitation by employers. In order to ease the extent of the problem, immigration laws should include special provisions for hardship cases, and the asylum laws should be adapted in order to take into account all forms of actual persecution.
FR 15.5.01 // SZ 15.5.01 // FAZ 29.5.01

Asylum statistics

In May 2001, a total of 6,491 persons have submitted an asylum application, an increase of 12.3% over the previous month. Compared to the same month of the previous year, numbers have increased by 9.9%, the main countries of origin still being Iraq, Turkey and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The Federal Office for the Recognition of Foreign Refugees has passed decisions on 6,849 persons, 3.9% of which have been recognised as entitled to political asylum. An additional 12.7% of applicants are protected against deportation according to Art. 51 Par. 1 Foreigners Act. 55.1% of applications have been rejected.
Press release BAFl 7.6.01 // FR 8.6.01 // Welt 8.6.01

May 2001

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