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efms Migration Report


October 2006

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EU: German-French initiative on common immigration policy

On the occasion of a meeting of the six largest EU Member States (France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Spain and Poland) in Stratford-upon-Avon, England, on 26 October 2006, the ministers of the interior discussed about a common European migration policy. To this end, the German federal Minister of the Interior, Wolfgang Schäuble, and his French counterpart, Nicolas Sarkozy, presented a paper of the German-French initiative containing proposals on a future co-operation on EU level. The core point of the paper was the opening-up of the EU for the so-called "circulatory migration". Guest workers having temporary employment contracts are to be given the opportunity to work between three and five years in an EU Member State. According to the paper, labour migrants could contribute at the same time to the development of their home countries by transferring money and acquiring professional skills. In order to foster circulatory migration, also country-specific immigration quotas are being taken into consideration, which would facilitate the negotiations of the EU Commission on re-admission agreements with the countries of origin. Further core points of the paper are the proposal of a common asylum authority, which could help the EU Member States in implementing asylum standards that are applicable throughout the EU, as well as a tightening of border controls and the common fight against human traffickers. Schäuble stressed that the concept would not only make immigration into the EU more controllable, but would offer also the countries of origin considerable advantages. Following the positive reactions of the interior ministers of the other states, the paper will now be discussed on overall EU level.
dpa 26.10.06 // SZ 27.10.06 // Die Welt 27.10.06

EU Commission: Expiry of transposition deadline for EU Directive on the recognition of asylum seekers

The EU Commission is taking into consideration the opening of a proceeding for the violation of treaties against Germany and 17 other EU Member States before the European Court of Justice. Except Estonia, Lithuania, Austria, France, Slovenia and Luxembourg, none of the Member States has transposed into national law the EU Directives on the Recognition of Asylum Seekers in due time by 10 October 2006. The directives are the core piece of the harmonisation of the EU asylum laws and stipulate "minimum standards" for the qualification as refugee or as a person in need of other international protection. The non-observance of the time limit has caused the provisions of the EU Directive to be directly employed. As a result of the lack of harmonized legal provisions within the EU existing so far, the chances of asylum applicants to be recognised as refugees turn out to be very different. In Austria, for instance, about 84 per cent of Chechen refugees are recognised as refugees whereas in France only 42 per cent of the applicants are successful. This leads to an increase in the number of asylum applications in the countries with easier access conditions. In Germany, the transposition of the EU Directive would lead to an easing of the provisions of the asylum law in force so far, thus making the conditions for asylum applicants more favourable.
FTD 11.10.06 // taz 11.10.06 // www.fluechtlingsrat-bw.de

Open letter to Pope Benedict: Religious dialogue on highest level

As a reaction to the regrets of Pope Benedict XVI about the misunderstandings caused by his Regensburg speech, thirty-eight renowned Islamic leaders and theologians from all over the world expressed in an open letter their acceptance of the Pope"s invitation to enter into a dialogue. The signatories of the letter have suggested talks on theological level in order to face "widespread and wrong verdicts on the Islam in the western world". However, they did not sign the letter as official representatives of their offices, but as individuals and Islamic theologians. Hence, it would not constitute an official letter, said the Grand Mufti of Istanbul, Mustafa Cagrici, as one of the signatories of the letter. The Archbishop of Bamberg, Ludwig Schick, said that in a dialogue it also needed to be possible to discuss controversial issues. As a reaction to the letter, the Vatican confirmed the visit of the Pope to Turkey scheduled for November.
FAZ online 16.10.06 // FAZ 17.10.06 // NZ 18.10.06

Greencard scheme not to be extended

The governing coalition in Germany does not want to further facilitate the immigration of highly skilled persons. Even though the interior policy experts of Union parties and SPD had agreed on easier conditions for the immigration of academics and other highly skilled persons, the initiative was given up after an objection brought forward by the federal Minister for Employment, Franz Müntefering (SPD). The spokesman of the SPD group in the German parliament, Dieter Wiefelspütz, said that the ministry of employment considered the current provisions as completely sufficient. Originally it was planned to lower the minimum income required for young immigrants from 85,000 euros per year to 63,000 euros and to loosen the restrictions for foreigners who completed their studies at German universities. Industry associations have long been claiming to loosen the restrictions on immigration for highly skilled persons. The Federation of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce (DIHK) warned of losing highly skilled work force due to the increasing number of Germans leaving the country to go abroad. With 145,000 departures in 2005, the strongest emigration out of Germany had been registered since 1954. Among these persons would be also many qualified and highly-motivated persons, said the president of the DIHK, Ludwig Georg Braun.
Die Welt 21.10.06 // SZ 24.10.06

Proportion of migrant children among the total of apprentices has decreased

The partners involved in the so-called vocational training pact (federal government, ministries and institutions of the economy) as well as the federal commissioner for migration have given alarm. Over the past ten years, the proportion of migrant children of the total number of apprentices has halved to lie now at 68,000. Of all migrants up to the age of 25, 41 per cent would not have any vocational training degree. The president of the Conference of Ministers of Education and Culture (KMK), Ute Erdsiek-Rave (SPD), considers especially the above-average proportion of migrant children at secondary general schools as dramatic. Forty-four per cent of foreign youths would attend secondary general schools whereas the proportion among Germans would amount to 19 per cent only. The president of the German Employers" Association (BDA), Dieter Hundt, demanded of the Federal Employment Agency (BA) additional support measures for an early language training of children. The Green Party has demanded that the BA set-up a special programme to create additional vocational training posts and associations of foreign employers in Germany announced the creation of 10,000 additional vocational training posts by the year 2010. In future, the partners of the vocational training pact will pay increased attention to the integration of migrant children.
Handelsblatt 17.10.06

Training of Imams working in Germany

The Konrad-Adenauer Foundation and the Turkish authority for religious affairs have prepared a training programme for Islamic priests who are active in German Mosque communities. Every year, Turkey sends about one hundred Imams to Germany to serve as spiritual heads of Islamic communities over a term of four years. Normally, they speak only little German have hardly any knowledge about the host country. Therefore, they would have difficulties in developing an understanding for the problems of daily life among Muslims living in Germany and could thus hardly support integration efforts. The programme prepares Imams in Turkey intensively to cope with their role in Germany. A language training course of three and a half months and a one-week course providing knowledge and facts about Germany form the core parts of the programme. By introducing the programme, the Turkish government reacted to claims of German politicians and of Turks living in Germany. By the end of the year, fifty trained Imams are to be sent to Germany; for 2007 it is planned to send one hundred. According to Dr. Oliver Ernst, regional expert for Near East studies of the Konrad-Adenauer Foundation, the current measures are only of intermediate nature. He added that in the long run, trained Imams would be needed in Germany.
Braunschweiger Zeitung 30.10.06

Appeal made by female member of the Green Party triggers-off headscarf debate anew

The appeal of Ekin Deligöz, female member of the Green Party, to Islamic women living in Germany to arrive in the present and quit the headscarf triggered-off a new round in the headscarf debate. According to Deligöz, the headscarf would still be a political symbol representing the oppression of women and being an obstacle to integration. The appeal lead to fierce reactions among Muslims. Conservative media in Turkey called Deligöz a "Turkish Nazi". Following threats of murder and letters of hate, she has been placed under police protection. However, she considers the fact that almost 90 per cent of the threatening letters and diatribes were launched by men as a confirmation of her point of view that the headscarf was a symbol of the oppression of women. The Minister of State for Integration, Maria Böhmer (CDU), welcomed Deligöz efforts. "To me, the headscarf is a political sign expressing isolation. If girls and women are forced to wear headscarves, it is even turned into a symbol of oppression. This is clearly contracting the equal rights of women", said Böhmer. The Islamic Council and the Islamic community Milli Görüs (IGMG) criticised the appeal and argued that Islam could not be integrated by employing assimilation. Integration meant as well that a person needed to be able to preserve his or her identity. Leading Muslim associations, however, expressed their solidarity with Deligöz. The threats against her would constitute an attack on the great good of the freedom of speech. It would not be of importance if Deligöz was right or wrong with her point of view. It needed to be allowed to express such opinions without being subject to massive threats and public incitements to hate afterwards.
Rheinische Post online 18.10.06 // Taz online 19.10.06 // Die Welt 20.10.06 // FR 28.10.06 // NN 30.10.06 // NN 31.10.06

Hesse: Debate on compulsory use of German in day nurseries

A decision of the municipal parliament of the town of Dietzenbach, located in southern part of the federal state of Hesse, re-opened anew the public debate on early language support to children with a migration background. The local parliament adopted the claim of the local division of the CDU and its coalition partner, the freie Wählergemeinschaft (FWG - independent voters" association), to use German in future as the only colloquial language in the town"s day nurseries and to hang up a picture of the federal President, Horst Köhler, as well as the German flag. The chairman of the CDU in Dietzenbach, Helmut Butterweck, said that the programme was aimed at a quicker integration of foreign children and at offering them the same opportunities like German children. The measures taken by the CDU in Dietzenbach were criticised by different bodies. Education experts, for instance, consider them "educative measures dating from past centuries". It would be better instead to start with intensive language support measures in an early child age. The Integration Commissioner Maria Böhmer (CDU) sees the initiative of the Dietzenbach CDU as "not very realistic" as many children in the corresponding age would not have started to speak German at all. The spokesman of the ministry of social affairs of Hesse welcomed the initiative of the Dietzenbach CDU saying that in the ministry it would be seen without reservations as it would be also not unusual to have a portrait of the federal President at schools. Also in day nurseries the hanging up of the German flag would not be an obstacle to integration.
FR 05.10.06 // Die Welt 09.10.06 // taz 10.10.06 // Die Welt 12.10.06 // FR 13.10.06 // Nordhessen- nh24 online 16.10.06

Baden-Württemberg: Annual report of the hardship commission

The hardship commission of the federal state of Baden-Württemberg, existing since 28 June 2005 and consisting of nine members, has presented its annual report. For slightly more than one year, foreigners threatened by deportation can direct their petitions for hardship cases to the commission whose members are working on a honorary basis and who have the possibility, upon revision of the situation of fact, to ask the interior minister of the federal state, Heribert Rech (CDU), to grant the person in question a right to remain. Rech then takes the final decision on the petitions on hardship cases and on the further residence status of the persons filing such petition. According to the report, the commission received by 30 September 2006 a total of 1,224 petitions for hardship cases for 4,622 foreigners obliged to leave the country. So far, the commission has dealt with 707 cases; 84 cases were not admitted for revision since, for instance, the persons in question were sought on the basis of warrants of arrest or had been deported already. In 245 cases, mostly filed by families and covering a total of 879 persons, the commission has pronounced itself in favour of granting residence permits. When deciding on hardship cases, integration efforts would be given particular importance. So far, Rech has confirmed the recommendations of the commission in 216 cases, which corresponds to a quota of almost 90 per cent. On the other hand, 27 petitions were rejected by the interior minister because applicants had committed criminal offences.
Bönningheimer Zeitung online 21.10.06

Hamburg: Christian democrats willing to discuss with Muslims conclusion of state treaty

As first German federal state, Hamburg wants to enter into negotiations on a state treaty with Muslims. Following a visit to the Central Mosque (Centrums-Moschee) at the beginning of October, the mayor of the city of Hamburg, Ole von Beust (CDU), announced plans to take-up talks with the Muslims on a state treaty. At the Muslims" side, the Schura, the council of Islamic communities of Hamburg e.V., which represents about fifty Muslim communities and Islamic associations in Hamburg, signalled its interest in taking-up talks. First of all, the Muslims expected to become recognised by the society after having been treated like "something alien" during decades. Possible contents of the talks comprise Islamic instruction classes, the training of Muslim teachers, the construction of mosques and the provision of spiritual welfare services to prison inmates.
Katholische Nachrichtenagentur 04.10.06 // Hamburg 1 online 21.10.06

Hamburg: Protests against central school register

The city of Hamburg has introduced a central school register to control the adherence to the obligation to attend school and to have in future a better instrument to impede the neglect of children. By launching the register, also for the first time children will be registered who attend school in Germany without having a lawful residence status. Critics from politics, churches and refugee organisations warned that children with insecure residence status or without any identity documents at all could in future be deported more easily, which could induce parents to entirely impede the school attendance of their children. Therefore they claimed that school directors should in future not be obliged to pass over data of school students that are residing illegally in Hamburg. Conservative politicians and parts of the SPD party, however, insisted on a strict adherence to the provisions of the school register.
taz online 16.10.06 // www.bildungsklick.de

Hamburg: Crime rate among ethnic German repatriates not above average

Against the backdrop of the public discussion about the presumably higher crime rate among Germans with the migration background of being ethnic German repatriate (Aussiedler), the State Office for Criminal Investigation of Hamburg has commissioned a scientific investigation. To this end, police statistics on officially registered delinquencies were analysed to prepare a police report on the situation. This report has found that the crime rate of ethnic German repatriates is lower than for all other citizens of Hamburg. Moreover, the survey data gathered did not suggest an above-average crime rate among ethnic German repatriates to be the reason for an increase of delinquency problems for Germans living in the hanseatic city in the past 15 years. The chief constable of Hamburg, Werner Jantosch, said the data gathered by the police would rebut the original assumption that the crime rate among ethnic German repatriates would be particularly high. It would rather be low compared to other groups, such as young foreigners.
Presseportal online 12.10.06

Criminal statistics: Increase in right-wing motivated offences

According to statistics of the Federal Office of Criminal Investigation (BKA), the number of right-wing motivated offences has increased in Germany. Between January and the end of August 2006, almost 8,000 right-wing motivated offences were registered, which represents an increase of about 20 per cent compared to the previous year and a surge of almost 50 per cent compared to 2004. Propaganda offences would count for two thirds of all cases. Also the number of right-wing motivated crimes of violence rose from 363 (2005) to 452 in the same period of 2006. Against the backdrop of these increases, politicians and anti-racism initiatives have called for an intensification of the fight against the expansion of neo-Nazis. The Chairwomen of the Central Council of Jews, Charlotte Knobloch, said that against the backdrop of the increasing number of anti-Semitic and right-wing extremist offences, there could no longer be the talk of individual cases. The interior minister of the federal state of Saxony-Anhalt, Holger Hövelmann, said a kind of "creeping acceptance" could be observed among the population. Right-wing extremists could stand to their convictions in the public without having to fear social exclusion. Therefore, a civil society would be needed that had the courage to act against right-wing extremist and neo-Nazi convictions and activities. Next year, the federal government will increase by five million euros the amount of funds for programmes against right-wing extremism; furthermore it evaluates the possibility to replace the programmes run by the federal government by programmes organised on municipal level. The chairman of the association "Gegen Vergessen - für Demokratie" (No to oblivion - yes to democracy), Joachim Gauck, considers projects organised on municipal level as problematic. Many municipalities would not apply for funds to run projects against right-wing extremism because they fear the image of the municipalities could be harmed.
FR 18.10.06 // Die Welt 19.10.06 // Die Welt 25.10.06

Higher Administrative Court of Berlin-Brandenburg: Naturalisation not revocable

The Higher Administrative Court (OVG) of Berlin-Brandenburg decided on 19 October 2006 in two proceedings that a naturalisation granted on the basis of deceived information cannot be revoked. According to the decision of the OVG, a naturalisation obtained on the basis of deceived information could be revoked only if the revocation would be ordered "in particularly short time" after naturalisation. The court decisions, however, are not final. Due to the importance of the proceeding, the OVG has allowed a revision by the Federal Administrative Court of Leipzig.
Berliner Morgenpost 20.10.06 // Press release OVG 19.10.06

Asylum statistics

In October 2006, a total of 1,842 people have submitted a petition for political asylum in Germany, an increase by 12.9 per cent (+221 applicants) compared to September 2006. Compared to October 2005, the number of asylum applicants has decreased by 18.0 per cent (-405 persons). The main countries of origin in October 2006 were Serbia (227), Iraq (189), Turkey (149), the Russian Federation (95) and Colombia (91). In October 2006, the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees has reviewed the applications of 2,118 asylum seekers, 8 (0.4 per cent) of whom have been recognised as entitled to political asylum. A further 89 persons (4.2 per cent) have been granted protection against deportation according to §60, paragraph 1, Residence Act. The applications of 1,254 persons (59.2 per cent) have been rejected. The cases of another 767 persons (36.2 per cent) have been closed for other reasons, for example because asylum seekers have withdrawn their applications.
Press release BMI 10.11.06


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