June 1998 Volume 5 Number 6
Germany: Asylum, Border Control
At the beginning of 1998, there were 7.4 million foreigners in Germany, making them nine percent of Germany's 82 million residents. There were 2.1 million Turks; 720,000 residents from ex-Yugoslavia; 608,000 from Italy; 363,000 from Greece; and about 282,000 each from Poland and Bosnia.
Some 134,400 ethnic German Aussiedler moved to Germany in 1997, down from 177,000 in 1996.
Interior Minister Kanther in May complained that some of the foreigners who were granted asylum in Germany left Germany for their countries of origin, and then returned to Germany; 113 Iraqis have purportedly done this. Kanther said that foreigners with asylum in Germany who voluntarily return would not be able to return to Germany as refugees.
As Germany steps up deportations, violence and complaints are on the rise. In Eisenhuettenstadt in the former East Germany, 100 foreigners awaiting deportation went on a rampage in a detention center in an attempt to escape.
On April 23, four German policemen who had accompanied a Ghanaian deportee from Germany were detained for one day in Accra because of complaints of inhumane treatment to the deportee by fellow passengers. Passengers on the plane reported that the deportee wore a crash helmet and was chained, handcuffed and tied to his seat during the flight from Germany to Moscow en route to Accra. The police escorts say the deportee tried to resist when boarding the plane. Ghanaian authorities, on the other hand, said the deportee's condition did not conform to international regulations.
Germany's BND intelligence service reported on May 18 that there could be a "violent and uncontrollable rise" in human smuggling. The BND says that there are 1.5 million foreigners waiting to enter Western Europe, including 400,000 Romanians and Russians and 700,000 Turks and Albanians in Italy waiting to move north. The 82-page report was prepared for the German parliament.
Germany in 1998 had 6,200 border police on its 1,000 km eastern border with Poland and the Czech Republic, up from 2,000 in 1993. In 1997, they apprehended about 20,000 foreigners--most were from Romania, Albania and Bulgaria-- plus 500 border-crossing guides. German border police can stop cars and trucks within 30 km of the border and search them for unauthorized foreigners.
German border police in 1996 estimated that they apprehend only one in five foreigners attempting illegal entry. Germany's interior minister has proposed a number of steps to increase control of entry to Germany, including giving border police the right to search for unauthorized entrants on trains within Germany. A May 4, 1998 Wall Street Journal article credits Germany's asylum law change of 1993 with discouraging illegal immigration over the eastern border.
The Czech Republic is trying to strengthen its border controls in advance of EU entry. In April, the Austrian interior minister threatened to withdraw support for the entry of the Czech Republic and Hungary unless they tighten visa requirements and border controls. The Czech Republic requested more funds for border control. At Cinovec, 22 officers guard the border, patrolling on foot. On the German side of the border, there are 160 agents, and they have cars, trucks, and technology that ranges from night-vision binoculars to a helicopter.
In Germany, a considerably higher percentage of foreign than German youth are arrested as criminal suspects. Many studies offer explanation by (1) noting that foreigners can commit more crimes than Germans because Germans cannot usually violate foreigners laws, (2) the foreign youth include more males from poorer households in large cities, and (3) some foreigners enter Germany only to commit crimes, and settled foreigners must be distinguished from these "criminal tourists."
In both France and Germany, there is a discussion of the practice of deporting foreign youth born or raised in France and Germany. The arguments against deporting such foreign youth include:
1. They learned how to commit crimes in Germany, and should not be sent as criminals to countries ill-prepared to deal with them.
2. They suffer a double penalty, the usual punishment for the crime followed by deportation.
Bavaria has proposed deporting the parents of foreign youth who commit crimes in Germany. A May 27, 1998 story described the case of a 13-year old Turkish youth who had a 1,000-page arrest record. According to several Bavarian politicians, since foreigners can be deported if they threaten public safety, both the 13-year old and his parents should be deported because the parents "failed" to properly raise their child; Germany only deports children with their parents.
CSU-led Bavaria still offers bilingual classes to encourage children to return to their countries of origin; liberal critics want these classes ended, and Turkish children placed in regular German courses. Sociologist Wilhelm Heitmeyer completed a study in 1997 that found that many Turkish youths living in Germany rejected integration, preferring instead a "separate but equal" life style, with Turkish discos etc.
There is also discussion of how to deal with unauthorized prostitutes and other "victims of smugglers and pimps" whose testimony is needed to convict smugglers and pimps. Many governments, including the US and Germany, offer a TPS status to foreigners whose testimony is needed in trials.
In May, 1998, the German government reported that only two percent of the foreigners who could receive TPS in exchange for cooperation with police in fact cooperate. According to the government, some of the foreign women forced into prostitution in Germany simply want to return to their areas of origin, many fear retribution at home if they cooperate, and TPS is not offered unless the woman's testimony is critical to the case. About 80 percent of the women forced into prostitution are from eastern Europe, as are 25 percent of the smugglers.
The German Bundestag in March 1998 rejected an SPD-proposal to permit children born to foreigners living legally in Germany to be German citizens. Only 160,000 of the country's 2.1 million residents of Turkish origin have become naturalized Germans and thus are eligible to vote in the September 27, 1998 elections, up from 30,000 in 1994. It is not clear how these Turkish-origin voters will vote. The Greens plan to campaign for the Turkish vote; the SPD does not plan a special outreach campaign for Turkish-origin voters.
Some observers say that after the election, there will be pressure to change the citizenship law, and that the rise of the far right may speed up that process. They point to the 13 percent vote on April 26 won by the right-wing, anti-immigrant German People's Union in Saxony-Anhalt as a warning that the far right is gaining popularity. A poll by the Mannheim Elections Research Group found that 30 percent of those under age 30 in Saxony-Anhalt voted for the German People's Union; the unemployment rate in Saxony-Anhalt is 24 percent. Another poll found that 85 percent of Germans want a new migration law.
Others, such the government's spokesperson on foreigners Cornelia Schmalz-Jacobsen, disagrees with the CSU statements made after the Saxony-Anhalt vote that foreigners are now the central issue in the general election. Schmalz-Jacobsen called the vote for the German People's Union a "false signal," because Saxony-Anhalt has only 1.8 percent foreigners.
The Bavarian CSU laid out its platform for the September elections, and declared that the immigration of non-EU foreigners must be further reduced. According to the CSU, Germany is not a country of immigration, has reached the limits of its absorptive capacity, and should not become a multicultural society. The CSU justified its platform on the basis of the 1981 SPD-FDP statement that "Germany is not and should not become a country of immigration."
On May 11, Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel proposed cutting aid to African and Asian countries that do not cooperate with Germany's repatriation policy. The proposal will be included in the election platform of his Free Democrat Party. Kinkel says that eighteen countries hinder repatriation, including Ghana, Nigeria, Togo, Gambia, Bangladesh and Sudan.
Berlin has proposed in the Bundesrat that German states stop paying for accommodations and meals for the approximately 250,000 foreigners ordered out of Germany who impede their return by destroying their papers and the like.
The US put pressure on EU nations including Germany to indicate that the EU would eventually accept Turkey as a member, but in the run-up to the September elections, Germany's Chancellor, Helmut Kohl, reportedly does not want to be seen as supporting steps that could bring more Turkish immigrants to Germany.
The 1997 annual report of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution said that adherents of the far right committed 11,700 politically related crimes in 1997, up from 8,700 in 1996. Leftist extremists committed 3,100 such crimes in 1997, up from 2,500 in 1996. There were about 58,000 members of dangerous foreigner "organizations" in Germany in 1997, led by the Islamische Gemeinschaft Milli Goerues, with 26,500. The Kurdish Workers Party or PKK, banned in Germany in 1993, had 11,000 members. The Office for the Protection of the Constitution noted that there were 10,000 members of Scientology.
The unemployment rate in Germany remains in the 12 to 13 percent range, with the rate for foreign workers and former East Germans almost twice as high at 22 percent.
Germany in 1998 has reduced by 30,000 the usual contingent of 200,000 Poles who come to Germany for up to 90 days to harvest asparagus, wine grapes and other commodities. Instead, Germany is requiring some unemployed Germans and resident foreigners receiving Unemployment Insurance benefits of about $250 a week to accept harvesting jobs that pay about $300 a week. One farmer said that the local Employment Service office promised him 50 harvesters. Only half showed up, and none lasted the whole day.
A 1996 book, "Turkish Culture in German Society Today," edited by Horrocks and Kolinsky includes articles written by Turks living in Germany who write in German. The editors argue that Germany "excludes" Turks, legally and culturally, from full participation in German society. The book concludes that there will be an eventual German-Turkish identity in a multicultural Germany.
Thorsten Schmitz, "Der Fall Mehmet: Ein 13jähriger - zu kriminell für Deutschland?" Süddeutsche Zeitung, May 27, 1998. "CSU verlangt Zuzugssperre für Ausländer," Süddeutsche Zeitung, May 23, 1998. Michele Legge, "Illegals flood Czech pipeline to West," Prague Post, May 20, 1998. Dennis Newson, "More than a million immigrants ready to swamp the West," Daily Mail, May 19, 1998. Lucy Smy, "Germany's election bypasses 2m voteless Turks," Financial Times, May 6, 1998. Neil King, "A New Era for European Immigrants," Wall Street Journal, May 4, 1998. Horrocks, David and Eva Kolinsky. Eds. 1996. Turkish Culture in German Society Today. Providence: Berghahn Books.