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efms Migration Report


March 2008

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EU wants common position in visa policy

The Member States of the European Union have agreed to take up in future a common position as regards their visa policy towards third countries. It was recorded in writing that the visa policy would fall into the competence of the Community, which limited the political "freedom of movement" of the Member States in this area. This was agreed as a reply to the signing of the legally not binding memorandum of understanding of the Czech Prime Minister Topolánek in the US in which Topolánek offered the US government concessions in the area of flight security in exchange of the exemption of Czech citizens from the duty to apply for visas when travelling to the US. This action taken by Topolánek on his own met with displeasure particularly at the EU Commission since he interfered in the competences of the EU.
FAZ 07.03.08

EU: Passport controls at airports in the Schengen area abolished

Since 30 March 2008, flight passengers can travel within the EU, excluding Great Britain, Ireland, Romania, Bulgaria and Cyprus, which do not belong to the Schengen area, without controls when entering or leaving a country. Already in December the routine controls at the land and sea borders of the Schengen area had been abolished.
SZ 26.03.08 // SZ 27.03.08

International survey: majority of Muslims admires Western values

In contrast to what is frequently assumed, most of the Muslims have a positive opinion about Western values. This is the result of a study of the US polling agency Gallup titled "Who Speaks for Islam? What a Billion of Muslims Really Think". The survey was aimed at finding an answer to the question that has arisen in the context of the Islamist terror attacks as to whether the majority of the Muslims worldwide is in favour of such acts. No one in Washington had an idea of what 1.3 billion Muslims worldwide would think. Nonetheless, complex strategies would be prepared, which would change the world forever, justified Jim Clifton, chairman of the agency, the survey in the framework of which 50,000 Muslims in 35 Muslim countries were interviewed. The result: even many of those among the 7 per cent of the Muslims classified as "politically radical" (93 per cent of the respondents are considered "politically moderate") do appreciate Western values: half of the politically radical respondents, for instance, said they would be in favour of more political democracy. According to the survey, "technology" is admired most; this is followed by the "rule of justice", "individual responsibility" and "fair political systems, democracy and human rights". Dalia Mogahed, co-author of the survey report, said the supporters of the Islamic terrorism would not hate the West for its freedom, as they rather wished to have this freedom for themselves. Anti-Americanism, for instance, would not be fed by the repugnance at Western values and principles, but be due to what Muslims individually experienced as a consequence of concrete foreign policies, added John L. Esposito who is also author of the survey.
Tagesspiegel online 01.03.08 // Die Welt 10.03.08

Only a few use and benefit from the statutory settlement of backlog cases for long-term tolerated refugees

According to the reply of the Federal Government to a parliamentary inquiry brought forward by the Left party, the statutory settlement of so-called backlog cases of refugees who have been tolerated over many years in Germany and which entered into force last summer as part of the package of acts to amend the immigration law, has been used so far to a relatively little extent by the persons eligible to benefit from it: By the end of 2007, only less than 22,900 persons of the almost 100,000 refugees who could not have been deported to their home countries for humanitarian grounds and who fulfil the application requirements of a long-term residence of at least six or eight years in Germany, had filed an application for the right to remain on the basis of the backlog case provision. Moreover, only a few applicants succeeded: just about the half (approx. 12,000 persons) was granted a right to remain and 9,000 of them were granted only a temporary right to remain, i.e. if these persons cannot provide evidence of a long-term employment by the end of 2009, their status will be set back to being just tolerated. However, the decision on more than almost 14,000 applications is still pending. Around 1,800 applications were rejected. Thus, the quota for granted permanent rights to remain currently stands at slightly more than 10 per cent. The expert for interior policy of the Left party, Ulla Jelpke, called the statutory settlement of backlog cases of the governing coalitions a flop. Once more the right to remain on humanitarian grounds had fallen into the bad ways of an irrational fear of an immigration that allegedly also had an impact on the social welfare security systems, she said. In a press release the Left party said that the promise of the SPD that about 60,000 persons affected would be granted a right to remain had not been kept.
FR 05.03.08 // Junge Welt 07.03.08

Asylum: Iraqi refugees make the asylum figures soar in the industrialised countries

According to the asylum statistics of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the number of asylum applicants in industrialised countries, which decreased over the past five years, has risen in many states due to the crisis in Iraq. With 338,000 applicants, the number of asylum applications in 43 industrialised countries has increased by a total of 10 per cent. Compared to 2006, the number of Iraqi applicants has almost doubled: whereas in the previous year almost 23,000 applications were filed, the number in 2007 stood at about 45,000 persons. While the number of asylum applications in states which do not have external EU borders such as Germany declined in the past year (-9 per cent), the Member States having external EU borders registered an increase above average. According to the statistics of the UN, Greece, for instance, registered an increase of 105 per cent, and in Poland and Hungary the figures rose by about 61 per cent. Since the beginning of 2008, however, also in Germany a considerable increase of the number of asylum applications has been registered. Compared to the same period of the previous year, the number has risen by 42 per cent, of which one third is attributable to applicants from Iraq. Refugee relief organisations in Germany now have demanded more generous reception programmes for refugees from Iraq. About 2 million Iraqis had already found shelter in neighbouring states such as Syria and Jordan; another 2.5 million refugees lived as internally displaced persons inside Iraq, according to the relief organisations. Representatives of the Churches demanded a long-term and secure right of residence and settlement particularly for the 20,000 to 30,000 Iraqi Christians who are mostly of Chaldaeic faith. The chairman of the Protestant Church in Germany, Bishop Wolfgang Huber, said that the Christians suffered violence that can be compared to acts of ethnic cleansing and genocides at other places. A spokesman of the Federal Ministry of the Interior said that the Federal Government would currently be considering the introduction of a quota system.
dpa 18.03.08 // IHT 18.03.08 // dpa 19.03.08 // SZ 27.03.08 // Der Spiegel 31.03.08 // NN 31.03.08

Islam Conference: differences between Muslim representatives

Even though some results were achieved at the third plenary meeting of the German Islam Conference (DIK) in Berlin on 13 March 2008, which was chaired by Federal Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU), it first of all revealed the gaps between secular and conservative Muslims living in Germany. The DIK, which was first convened in autumn 2006, comprises 15 representatives of the state and 15 representatives of different Muslim groups who try to define a basis for the living together of Germans and citizens of Turkish origin based on the results of four working groups on different subject areas. The difference between the not organised secular Muslims and the orthodox Muslims organised in associations particularly became apparent in the subject area of "German social system and agreed values" which was partly discussed in heated debates. While for instance many conservative Muslim representatives were willing to commit themselves to the German Basic Law in general, they refused to do so as regards the values it provides for. The secretary-general of the Central Council of the Muslims, Ayman Mazyek, for instance, declared that they were not willing to be tied down to the German "Leitkultur" (cultural identity and core values). The female conference member and secular Muslim Necla Kelek said about this point that the associations tried this way to avoid committing themselves to the values of a pluralistic society and added that they accepted the Basic Law only as a guarantee for their own religious freedom and wanted to safeguard their parallel societies. Moreover, the secular representatives complained about the influence of the associations at the talks which they considered to be too strong. The Afghani film director and former member of the Islam Conference Walid Nakschbandi called the Conference a farce due to the fact that it would be dominated by the functionaries of the large Muslim associations and added that opinions other than the ones of the conservatives would no longer be heard. As a core result of the Conference it was decided to introduce Islamic instruction classes held in German language: according to Schäuble, the classes are to be taught exclusively by teachers trained in Germany and should be offered in a five-years time throughout Germany. Moreover, the Conference members expressed themselves in favour of the new construction of mosques in order to get the Muslim community centres out of the backyards. As regards the future of the DIK, which originally was intended to meet over two to three years, the Federal Interior Minister said he would see the need to turn the Conference in a long-term institution and added that the Islam Conference would be needed for years to come.
FAZ 05.03.08 // dpa 06.03.08 // Press release of the Federal Ministry of the Interior 13.03.08 // FAZ 13.03.08 // SZ 13.03.08 // NN 13.03.08 // Cicero online 14.03.08 // FAZ 14.03.08 // SZ 15.03.08 // dpa 15.03.08 // Die Welt 15.03.08

Study: Wages and salaries have not declined due to immigration

According to the findings of a study of the London-based Centre for Economic Policy Research titled "The Labour Market Impact of Immigration in the 1990s in Western Germany", the immigration of foreign workers to Germany in the 1990s had neither a negative impact on the wages and salaries nor on the employment rate among Germans. Based on the analysis of data of the Nuremberg-based Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung (Institute for Employment Research - IAB) it was even found that the wages and salaries of Germans with low or medium qualifications had increased due to immigration. Only within the group of immigrants themselves, the competition on the labour market had risen. According to the scientists, the reason behind these findings can be found in the fact that Germans and foreign workers do not compete with each other because of the differences in the educational background and vocational experience, which, however, would indeed hold true for the relation between the migrants themselves.
FR 18.03.08

One fifth of the German population has a migration background

According to data of the Federal Statistical Office in Wiesbaden, 18.4 per cent (15.1 million) of the persons living in Germany in 2006 had foreign roots. With 130,000 persons the year before, the portion would still have stood below 18.2 per cent. According to information of the Statistical Office, this increase could be attributed to the number of German citizens born in Germany whose parents are of foreign origin. On the other hand, the number of foreign citizens born in Germany remained unchanged and amounted to 1.7 million. More than half of the persons with a migration background living in Germany had a German passport, which corresponds to 9.5 per cent of the overall population.
Press release of the Federal Statistics Office 11.03.08 // dpa 11.03.08 // NN 12.03.08

Asylum statistics

In March 2008, a total of 1,545 persons has submitted a petition for political asylum in Germany, which is an decrease of 15 per cent (-273 persons) compared to February. Compared to March 2007, the number of asylum applicants has increased by 5.3 per cent (+77 persons). In February, the main countries of origin were Iraq (479), Serbia (145), Turkey (132) and Vietnam (71) followed by Syria (55). In this month, the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees decided on the asylum applications of 1,836 persons. A total of 27 persons (1.5 per cent) were recognised to be entitled to political asylum, whereas 660 persons (36 per cent) were granted protection against deportation according to § 60, paragraph 1, Residence Act. The applications of 557 persons (30.3 per cent) were rejected. The cases of a further 551 persons (30 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 BMI 08.04.08


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