Berlin, Germany April 24-26, 1997
Report of the seminar on
Immigration, Integration, and Enforcement
Focus on Berlin and Poland
April 24-26, 1997
June 3, 1997
FOREIGNERS IN GERMANY AND BERLIN 2
FOREIGN WORKERS IN CONSTRUCTION 5
RELIGION AND IMMIGRANT INTEGRATION 10
CURRENT ISSUES: ASYLUM, BOSNIANS, AND POLICY 11
ECONOMIC INTEGRATION AND MIGRATION 13
BORDER ENFORCEMENT 14
APPENDIX 1: FOREIGN WORKER PROGRAMS 14
The fifth Migration Dialogue seminar was held April 24-16, 1997 in Berlin. Migration Dialogue seminars provide an opportunity for 40 to 45 opinion leaders from France, Germany, and the US to discuss, in an off-the-record setting, the major immigration and integration issues facing the industrial democracies. Each seminar includes field trips, so that participants can learn about these issues directly from immigrants and from immigration and integration authorities.
This report was prepared after the seminar, and is being distributed to participants in the Berlin seminar and to other interested parties. Since it has not been seen or approved by participants, it should not be construed as a consensus document discussed and debated by participants. An agenda and list of participants are attached.
Foreigners in Germany and Berlin
In 1997, there were about 7.3 million foreigners living in Germany--mostly living in the former West Germany--and they accounted for almost 9 percent of Germany's 82 million residents. The foreign population of Germany includes about 2.1 million Turks, 1.4 million residents of ex-Yugoslavia, 600,000 Italians, 360,000 Greeks, and 280,000 Poles. About 20 percent of the babies born in Germany each year are foreigners, and more foreigners continue to arrive than depart, ensuring that the percentage of foreigners in the population will rise.
The composition of the foreign-born population of the two countries differs in a significant respect: Germany's immigrants are "older" or more established than US immigrants. Almost two thirds of Germany's foreigners have lived in the country for more than 10 years, and 25 percent have lived in Germany more than 20 years.
"Non-immigrant" Germany has been affected by 5 waves of immigrants over the past 50 years:
1. 1945-49--the postwar return of 12 million ethnic Germans from the eastern parts of the German Reich and from eastern and southern Europe to West Germany (8 million) and East Germany (3.6 million).
2. 1949-61--the migration of 4 million East Germans to West Germany until the Berlin Wall was built in August 1961, and the migration of 400,000 West Germans to East Germany.
3. 1961-73--the recruitment of guest workers in southern Europe--the number of employed guest workers peaked at 2.6 million in 1973, and is today about 2.1 million. The foreign population in 1973 was 4 million, and is today 7.2 million.
4. 1973-88/89--the recruitment of additional guest workers was stopped, and Germany (1) encouraged guest workers to depart, but also (2) permitted family unification in Germany. The gap between the number of foreign workers and the foreign population widened, so that the foreign worker share of the foreign population fell from 65 percent in 1973 to 30 percent in 1997.
5. 1988-92--newcomers poured into Germany--asylum-seekers, East and ethnic Germans, family unification of guest workers and births to foreigners in Germany, new types of foreign workers, and illegal migrants (1.7 million ethnic Germans have arrived in Germany since 1990, and 2.3 million foreigners arrived in Germany between 1988 and 1993).
6. 1993--restrictions on ethnic Germans who want to migrate from Eastern Europe to German; new asylum regulations; an influx of EU construction workers and stepped up enforcement.
German immigration and integration policy are in flux. There seems to be only one point of agreement--the status quo is not sustainable. However, Germany seems to be quick to tighten controls when it perceives abuses. In January 1997, for example, the interior ministry proposed an emergency regulation that requires children under 16 to obtain visas to make a first visit to Germany from ex-recruitment countries such as Turkey and ex-Yugoslavia, and requires the 600,000 children from these countries living in Germany to obtain residence permits. IN 1996, about 2100 unacommpanied minors entered Germany from these countries, up from 900 in 1995, and 200 in 1994.
In the early 1990s, a net 400,000 foreigners moved to Germany. If a net 400,000 immigrants continued to arrive annually, and 100,000 foreign children are born in Germany, but only 70,000 foreigners each year naturalize, then Germany in 2030 would have a population of about 90 million, of whom 30 percent would be foreigners. Cities such as Frankfurt, Stuttgart, and Munich, which now have about one-quarter foreign residents, would have populations that were half or more foreign within one generation.
Since one in six foreigners in Germany today was born in Germany--1.2 million--and half have lived in Germany for 10 or more years, automatic and/or easier naturalization could quickly turn today's foreigners into tomorrow's Germans. Germany is the only major Western industrial nation to maintain the principle that nationality is essentially passed down through the blood line.
Easier naturalization and permitting dual nationality are seen by some as the key to successful integration. Half the foreigners in Germany are eligible to naturalize, but only about 500,000 of them are naturalized Germans. In 1996, about 70,000 or 1 percent of the foreigners in Germany naturalized, versus about 6 percent of the foreigners in the Netherlands; Turkey in 1995 made it easier for Turks to give up Turkish citizenship.
The image of both foreigners and ethnic Germans is not positive--foreigners are sometimes portrayed as unfair competitors in the labor market, and ethnic Germans as chronic welfare recipients. About 8 percent of German nationals, and 14 percent of all foreign residents in Germany, received welfare assistance at the end of 1995. Several participants mentioned the April 14, 1997 cover story in Der Spiegel, which was headlined "dangerous foreigners," and opened with the assertion that Germany faces a time bomb in major cities of disaffected foreign youth. According to Spiegel, foreign youth, who are less than 10 percent of all young people in Germany, are convicted in about one-third of murders, robberies, and drug cases in Germany.
When German politicians say that "Deutschland ist kein Einwanderungsland," they do not mean that there are no foreigners in Germany; instead, they mean that Germany does not have, and should not develop, an immigration policy that anticipates the arrival of immigrants, as in the US. The dominant political parties-- Christian Democratic Union and the Christian Social Union or CDU-CSU--want to maintain the status quo, but there are at least three alternative proposals, and all would begin to treat and ethnic German Aussiedler, who are who are considered to be Germans upon their arrival, as immigrants:
1. The Social Democratic Party SPD- and the Free Democratic Party FDP- controlled state of Rhineland-Pfalz proposed in the SPD-dominated Bundesrat that an expert commission should establish a global annual quota for all immigration, and quotas for subcategories of immigrants, based on the need for immigrants and on the integration capacity of Germany.
In addition, the SPD proposal would give foreigners the right to apply for German citizenship after 8 years of residence (down from 15 years), and grant foreigners born in Germany of legally resident parents automatic access to German citizenship, with foreign children who would thus have two nationalities. They would be required to choose one by age 23.
2. The FDP--coalition partner of the CDU-CSU government--in April 1997 proposed a US-style ceiling on annual immigration, including ethnic Germans, asylum seekers and refugees, and the introduction of queues or waiting lists to enter Germany as an immigrant. Under the FDP plan, the total number of foreigners moving to Germany would be determined for two year periods. The FDP asserted that Germany will continue to be reliant on foreign workers but, under current conditions, none would be admitted under the FDP's plan.
The FDP proposal would allow foreigners born in Germany to become dual nationals if they wished at age 18.
3. The Greens have proposed an immigration system with a minimum annual number of immigrants determined by the number of ethnic Germans who arrive. The number of family members and employment-related immigrants would equal the number of ethnic German arrivals-- for 1997, about 200,000 ethnic Germans and another 200,000 family members and employment-related immigrants would be permitted.
In addition, the Greens would grant citizenship to babies born in Germany with at least one legal foreign parent, and change German asylum law to prevent the deportation of persons who would e.g. lose access to specialized medical treatment in their country of origin, so that the total number of immigrants in any year could be larger than e.g., 400,000. The Greens would also explicitly permit dual nationality: according to the Greens, there are already 1.2 million dual nationals in Germany.
On April 21, the CDU announced that it opposed the enactment of an immigration law that would make naturalization easier, explicitly permit dual citizenship and establish an annual quota for immigrants. According to the CDU-CSU, quotas would not help to manage the influx, nor would they promote integration. Finance Minister Waigel in April also proposed to pay foreigners lower social welfare assistance benefits than Germans, saying that the foreigners send some of their payments to relatives in their country of origin.
Berlin is a city of 3.5 million that includes about 450,000 or 13 percent foreigners, including 160,000 Turks, of whom 20,000 are naturalized German citizens. The foreign share of Berlin's population is expected to rise to 17 percent by 2010, since 20 percent of the 25,000 babies born each year in Berlin are foreigners. Over 80 percent of the foreigners in Berlin live in the former West Berlin.
Berlin also has 30,000 Bosnians who were granted Temporary Protected Status after their arrival in Germany. Berlin and Bavaria have been more aggressive than the other German Laender in urging them to return to Bosnia.
Berlin is one of the 16 German Laender (states), and was the first, in 1981, to establish a Commissioner for Foreigners to coordinate efforts to integrate foreigners in schools, housing, and employment. The Commissioner has about DM100 million ($60 million) in 1997 for integration projects.
The Berlin Commissioner for Foreigners believes that the labor market is the key to successful integration, and that the German labor market must become more flexible to integrate foreigners. Legal residence can be dependent on legal employment, and a foreigner with little education and few skills may not be offered a job that pays at least the high German minimum wage. Germany makes a mistake, she believes, by making it easier for foreigners to enter the welfare system than for foreigners to enter the labor market.
For example, a foreigner in Berlin needs an apartment and a work permit to remain a legal resident. However, to get a job, the worker must find an employer willing to pay at least the minimum DM16 or $10 per hour. If the foreigner cannot find such a job, then his/her residence status may be in jeopardy. Thus, the Commissioner would embrace a special lower minimum wage for foreigners and other changes to make them more attractive to German employers.
Other participants countered that 95 percent of the foreign youth in Germany have a secure legal and work status, so that the rigid labor market could, at best, affect 5 percent of foreign youth. Still, 80 percent of the foreigners under 20 in Germany who are unemployed do not have a secondary school leaving certificate, and many employers may be unwilling to pay them Germany's high minimum wage.
Berlin's economy is being restructured. Previously subsidized industries in West Berlin are closing, and state-owned East Berlin industries are being restructured. Simultaneously, Berlin is in the midst of a construction boom.
Despite the boom associated with preparing Berlin to be the capital of Germany in 1999, foreigners can be described as having half the opportunities, and twice the problems of Germans. The unemployment rate for foreigners in Berlin--35 percent--is more than twice the overall 15 percent rate in Berlin, even though many young foreign men are not in the labor force. There are several reasons, including the high percentage of foreigners who have not learned a trade, the entry of foreign rather than local workers into the construction industry, and discrimination.
Without agreement on a definition of the foreign youth problem, there is no consensus on solutions. There are two economically-oriented approaches: demand-side changes in the labor market so that employers will reach back further in the queue and hire those with less German and fewer skills, or supply-side changes in the qualifications of foreign youth so that they are more attractive to German employers. Der Spiegel (16/1997, 91) offered a third definition of the problem--traditional Turkish families do not want their children to adopt "German ways," and asserted that 30 to 40 percent of the Turkish children who went to school in Berlin had little or no knowledge of German.
Foreign Workers in Construction
Berlin is sometimes called the world's largest construction site; there are some 10,000 building sites, including 300 major projects, scattered throughout the city that will be united Germany's capital in 2000. Contractors and subcontractors employ about 550,000 workers, including 200,000 foreigners, on Berlin's construction sites; nonetheless, in March 1997, some 25,350 construction workers in Berlin were unemployed.
After unification in 1990, there was a rush of new contractors to Berlin, and today there is a shakeout as the number of new contracts fell. To gain a competitive edge, many contractors use foreign workers to reduce their costs--it is estimated that foreigners build 40 percent of the shells or foundations of major buildings being constructed in Germany.
There are several ways that contractors can lawfully use foreign workers, including:
1. hire foreign workers directly, since they are usually more willing to work long hours in a business that rewards speedy work and penalizes delays.
2. hire foreign workers indirectly, by contracting with local or foreign subcontractors who, in turn, employ foreign workers. Germany does not have joint liability or require that subcontractors be bonded against wage claims and fines for labor and immigration violations, so that, even if the general contractor is aware that illegal foreign workers are on the construction site, he is not liable.
3. establish a subsidiary in an EU nation such as Portugal, and then send the workers employed by that subsidiary to Germany under the freedom to provide services provisions of the EU. These EU workers posted to Germany can usually be paid more than the Portuguese minimum wage, but less than prevailing German wages.
This means that there are many nationalities and statuses of foreign worker on Berlin construction sites:
1. Nationals of other EU countries, such as Portugal and Britain, who have the right to move to Germany and seek jobs for up to three months on an equal footing with German workers.
2. Project-tied foreign workers from Poland and other Eastern European countries who remain Polish or Czech employees even after they are sent to Berlin under agreements between e.g., German and Polish firms (Werkvertraege). German firms must register their Werkvertraege with Germany's labor office.
3. Independent EU businesses, i.e., stonemasons from the UK who work for piece rate rather than hourly wages while e.g., building walls, thus avoiding payroll taxes
4. Illegal foreign workers, i.e., foreign workers without valid work permits, or foreign workers who are permitted to work in Germany, but only for a specific employer or in a specific job (German labor law strictly regulates the transfer of workers from one employer to another--Arbeitnehmerüberlassung).
In 1989-90, there was a rush of foreigners into Germany, enforcement was relaxed, and the number of illegal alien workers quickly climbed to 500,000 or 1 million or more. If there were 1 million illegal aliens among Germany's 35 million employed workers, than there would be about the same percentage of illegal aliens in Germany (3 percent) as in the US, where perhaps 4 million illegal aliens among 125 million workers are employed (3 percent).
Germany responded with temporary worker programs that aimed to substitute legal for illegal workers, channeling workers into five major foreign worker programs: seasonal workers, project-tied migrants, border commuters, trainees, and nurses and physical therapists. However, Germany has learned that:
1. It is very difficult to prevent illegal alien employment from rising alongside legal foreign worker employment
2. It is hard to enforce German labor laws--practically all foreign workers claim that they are earning the required minimum DM17 per hour whether they are or not.
3. It is hard to regulate the employment of EU nationals who possess freedom of movement rights--many British workers, for example, are believed to be collecting UI benefits in the UK while working for wages in Germany, helping to explain why they are willing to work for what the Germans consider low wages.
Germany's labor ministry, which is responsible for enforcing labor laws, has 184 offices, including 44 with a special emphasis on preventing illegal alien employment. These offices have 1600 permanent labor inspectors, and another 840 inspectors assigned to enforcing labor and immigration laws in construction between 1996 and 1998. Finally, 1000 former customs inspectors on the East-West German border have been retrained and reassigned to do labor inspections, for a total 3440 inspectors.
There are 2.1 million foreign workers in Germany's social security system, including 600,000 Turks and 420,000 from the former Yugoslavia (total employment is 34 million). Foreigners are considered more willing to accept night and weekend work than Germans: 48 percent of McDonald's employees in Germany are foreigners.
Foreigners nonetheless have an unemployment rate of about 22 percent, double the 11.3 percent German rate in April 1997, and they received DM6 billion ($3.5 billion) in UI payments in 1996. All foreigners must have work permits to be employed in Germany, and carry these work permits while employed in construction.
In addition, some 1.37 million work permits were issued to non-EU foreigners in Germany 1995, including 950,000 permits issued after it was determined that no German or EU workers were available. Many of these permits were issued for seasonal or other short-term work.
The German government in April promised to step up enforcement of a new law that, between January and August 1997, requires foreign workers employed on German construction sites to be paid at least German minimum wages from the first day of their employment: DM17 ($10) per hour in the former West Berlin, and DM15.64 ($9) per hour in the east.
In 1996, the inspectors began 473,000 civil and criminal actions for all types of labor law and immigration violations, 80 percent in the former West Germany, and down from 632,000 in 1993, 620,000 in 1994, and 512,000 in 1995.
German inspectors completed 474,000 cases in 1996 and, in 317,000 or two-thirds of the cases, an employer or worker was warned and issued a civil fine--about 55,000 criminal citations were issued.
There are two major violations involving foreign workers: illegal alien employment (both the employer and foreign worker violate #229 1 of the AFG), and the unlawful transfer of foreign workers from one employer to another (Arbeitnehmerüberlassung). In 1996, about 87,000 or 18 percent of the cases opened involved illegal alien employment, and 8500 cases involved unlawful worker transfers. In 1996, there were a total of 55,300 citations issued for employing illegal aliens, including 9100 criminal citations that involved DM37 million in fines ($22 million), or an average criminal fine of $2400 (in 1995, there were 6500 criminal sanctions and DM33 million in fines). In 1996, labor inspectors checked 424,000 workers at work, and checked 1.1 million pay and work permit records.
When illegal foreign workers are found, they are expelled from Germany, and their employers are fined. German authorities try to obtain back wages due illegal workers from their employers, but there is no system for sending the money to the expelled worker in his country of origin.
The maximum fine for employing illegal alien workers is DM100,000 ($60,000). However, if the employer exploits the foreign workers by putting them in worse conditions than similar German workers, or employs 5 or more foreign workers without permits for 30 days or more, or employs foreign workers without permits for a second or third time, then the employer can be charged with criminal violations, and be sentenced to 3 to 5 years in jail.
Germany's labor inspectors note several problems that prevent full compliance with laws that aim to prevent illegal alien employment:
1. An increasing percentage of the fines are appealed -- 20 to 30 percent-- and sympathetic courts used to levying fines of a few hundred DM for traffic and similar violations are reducing fines in the hundreds of thousands and millions of DM levied by German labor inspectors.
2. Many of the small subcontractors cited for criminal violations go out of business and do not pay their fines, or local prosecutors do not take up their cases. For example, of the 12,400 citations (Ermittlungsverfahren) issued by the Berlin police for suspected illegal work in construction, only 1000 were taken up by local prosecutors.
3. There is little international cooperation in enforcing employer sanctions laws, so that what is illegal in Germany can be advertised openly in Portugal or the UK.
There are two broad responses to the combination of high unemployment among German workers, and large numbers of foreign workers, as in Berlin construction. One response is to blame rigidities and excesses in the German labor market--unemployment insurance benefits and assistance can continue forever at relatively high levels, the argument runs, so unemployed German workers can be picky--in Germany, UI benefits are 60 to 63 percent of previous earnings for about two years, and then about 50 percent of earnings indefinitely, while in the US, UI benefits are typically 50 percent of previous earnings for a maximum of six months. Thus, a $1200 monthly UI check is equivalent to $8.50 per hour for a 35-hour week, a fairly high wage for e.g., a 45 year old unemployed construction worker. In addition, construction workers a Christmas bonus ("13th month's salary") that was 100 percent, and is now 77 percent of their usually monthly wage.
If minimum wages were lowered and benefits were reduced, this argument runs, German and resident foreign workers such as Turks would be more likely to apply for the sometimes hard and dirty jobs in construction, and German employers would be more likely to hire them. Under current conditions, an "underground city" is emerging in which private contacts and networks are replacing public institutions as a means of finding jobs and providing support in emergencies.
The second response to the combination of high unemployment among German and resident foreigners and "labor shortages" that lead to the entrance of more foreign workers is to call for stepped-up labor law enforcement and new tools to induce German employers to obey the law. Stepped-up labor law enforcement requires more inspectors, and laws that would make e.g., the general contractor liable for all labor law and immigration violations found on the work site (joint liability between the general and subcontractors). In addition, subcontractors could be required to post a bond to cover the cost of unpaid wages and fines, which would permit the market to help determine their reliability, since the more reliable contractors could presumably get bonds more cheaply.
The US separates labor law and immigration enforcement--the federal Department of Labor, and various state labor agencies, enforce minimum wage, child labor, and related laws, while the INS enforces immigration laws in the work place. The missions of DOL and INS differ, which makes cooperation difficult--DOL sees its mission as protecting all workers, and wants to enlist worker trust to discover employer violations, while INS sees its mission as detecting and removing illegal alien workers.
Like Germany, France puts primary responsibility for detecting illegal aliens in the hands of labor inspectors who also enforce other labor laws. In both 1995 and 1996, about 20,000 employers were found to be hiring illegal foreign workers, including several US employers operating in France. Under new legislation, French police are allowed to enter work places and search for illegal alien workers.
Labor inspectors mount about 1 "major inspection" of a construction site each month in Berlin; a major inspection involves up to 100 police with dogs to surround the construction site to prevent anyone from leaving during the inspection, and 200 to 300 labor inspectors to check the legal status of the workers on the site. A convoy of 50 or more vehicles is assembled near the site to be inspected, police surround it, and inspectors rush into the partially assembled buildings so that they can determine exactly what workers are doing when they arrive (the worker may be legal if he is laying bricks, but not if he is painting, and he may be working for the "wrong" employer).
The workers are quickly interviewed where they are employed, and then taken to a central location where they permits are reviewed. Many of the workers try to hide in the partially finished buildings, so that police use dogs ensure that all workers are checked. Workers without proper permits are handcuffed, placed in police vans, and taken to detention facilities, where their unauthorized status is confirmed by the Aliens Police, who do not participate in the raids.
In Berlin on April 25, 1997, some 70 to 80 of the 500 workers - 15 or 20 percent - engaged in building about 500 apartments for seniors were discovered to be unauthorized workers during a major inspection. Most were Eastern Europeans, many of them Poles. who are permitted to enter Germany without visas, but not to work without a labor permit.
Religion and Immigrant Integration
Germany has achieved religious diversity through immigration; for example, there are 120 different religions represented in Frankfurt. There are about 2.5 million mostly Turkish Moslems in Germany, including 175,000 in Berlin.
Religious diversity has produced a variety of integration or accommodation issues, which in Germany range from the role of the state in collecting taxes earmarked for the church, to the wearing of religious emblems such as head scarves in school, to accommodating special marriage and death rituals in public cemeteries.
Germany favors several established religions, including Catholics, Protestants, Mormons, and Jews. A person baptized as a member of one of these religions--each organized as a public corporation-- pays a tax to the appropriate church that is collected by public tax authorities, and can provide religious instruction to pupils whose parents approve of religious instruction in public schools. In 1996, state of Brandenburg,
abolished both Protestant and Catholic religion classes and replaced them with the new discipline "Life-style, Ethical and Religious Studies" (LER: Lebens-gestaltung-Ethik-Religions-kunde)
Muslims, however, are organized into private societies. They are free to practice their religion and have tax-favored status, but cannot take advantage of the tax-collecting authority of the government, nor can they have Islam taught in public schools. Private societies cost Muslim organizations money, and they may also lead to extremism. The Turkish government, for example, can and does appoint imans for many mosques. Organizations such as the Milli Görus, with 26,500 members in 500 branches, are sometimes described as a "fifth column" of extremists bent on becoming German citizens and having political influence, but also on spreading Islam.
The US has also become religiously more diverse through immigration--the US may include as many Muslims--5 to 6 million--as France and Germany combined. Immigration has been and is a source of tension in the US, as exemplified by the anti-Catholic Know Nothing party of the 1850s, and as tensions arise over new religious practices associated with new religions.
Iraqi-born parents in the US, for example, have been arrested for arranging marriages for 12-year old daughters. However, the US maintains the separation of church and state, so there is no prayer or religious education in public schools to quarrel about,. To deal with religious symbols in public places, the US tends to be inclusive, as, for example, when Jewish and African symbols are displayed along with Christmas trees and crèches.
France has 3.5 to 4 million Muslims, and France worries about their integration. In the past, France has expelled Protestants, and sanctioned discrimination against Jews, but in 1905, the government quit explicitly subsidizing the Catholic church; however, the French government still pays the salaries of Catholic religious teachers in French schools.
France in 1989 was rocked by the controversy that resulted when several school girls wore head scarves to school, and were banned from the school when they refused to remove them. The French government has since announced its policy--headscarves and other religious items are permitted if they are simply for religious identification; they are prohibited if they are meant to proselytize.
The integration of Muslim Turks into German society can be seen as a glass that is half full or half empty. On the one hand, many Turkish community leaders point to the rising number of Turkish businesses, and the greater toleration of Germans for non-Christian religions. But there remains the danger that the extremes may squeeze out the middle in a debate where they are no "right" answers.
For example, Turkey's interior minister in March 1997 remarked that Turks "tend to burrow in deeply" wherever they go, and that, "since they could not throw us out, the Germans are trying to burn us out," a reference to the 30 foreigners, mostly Turks, who were killed in arson attacks on foreigners since 1990.
Berlin's interior minister, on the other hand, asserted that there is a linear relationship between the number and type of foreigners and the ease of integrating them into German society--integration for him means that foreigners living in Berlin must respect equality between men and women, the separation between church and state, and not fight foreign civil wars in Germany, a reference to the fight between Kurds and Turks in southeastern Turkey.
Current Issues: Asylum, Bosnians, and Policy
Asylum reform is considered a success in Germany. Asylum involves foreigners arriving in a country and requesting temporary safe haven, or the chance to resettle. In all of the industrial democracies, the majority of asylum applications are rejected, so that separating genuine and false asylum applicants is a major objective of all asylum systems. However it is difficult to construct stable systems for making difficult decisions on who really faces persecution at home, and who is seeking economic opportunity.
Since there are no limits on the number of asylum applicants who can appear and request asylum, asylum has been called the "wild card" in immigration systems. When asylum applications surge, as they did in 1992 in Germany to about 438,000, the cost of housing, feeding, and deciding asylum cases--some DM 6 to 8 billion or $4 to $5 billion--can approach contributions for development assistance (Germany provided $7 billion in ODA in 1991).
Germany in 1992 received 438,000 applications for asylum, producing a backlash against foreigners that resulted in arson and other attacks that left several foreigners dead.
Most industrial democracies have committed themselves to the 1951 Geneva Convention, which obliges nations not to return to danger persons fleeing political persecution. However, each nation must decide for itself what constitutes political persecution. In 1993, after a contentious debate, the German Bundestag amended Germany's constitution to introduce the concept of the safe third country. Aliens arriving from a safe country in which they could have requested asylum from political persecution cannot apply for asylum in Germany. They are either turned back at the border or, if found within Germany, returned to the safe country through which they entered Germany.
In addition, the burden of proof was placed on aliens requesting asylum from safe third countries to show that, even in the general absence of political persecution, they had indeed been persecuted. Until the change, the German government had had the burden of proving that the applicant had not been persecuted. Airport procedures were also streamlined, permitting the speedy return of asylum seekers whose claims had been rejected. Taken together, these three changes in German law and practice sent a strong message that dramatically reduced asylum applications in recent years to 120,000 or 130,000 per year.
Most observers consider the asylum reform a success. The number of asylum applicants fell by 3/4, reducing the state and local costs of housing and feeding asylum applicants. Romanians and Bulgarians learned that it was not worthwhile attempting to get to Germany and apply for asylum. There does not appear to be an offsetting increase in illegal immigration from countries that were sending asylum seekers.
Germany's foreigners' law permits the entry of persons needing temporary protected status, especially if there is someone in Germany willing to assume the cost of accommodating them. For many reasons, including regret about Germany's role in the break-up of Yugoslavia, Germany accepted about 320,000 Bosnians, who are supposed to return to Bosnia when conditions stipulated by the Dayton Agreement are met. Germany announced plans to return most of the Bosnians by the end of 1997, but so far only 2 of the 16 Laender, Berlin and Bavaria, have returned Bosnians involuntarily.
Under US (but not German) law, persons can be granted refugee status on the basis of past persecution; German law recognizes only current political persecution as requiring the granting of asylum.
Germany has a foreigners law rather than an immigration system, a law that is in some respects is more generous than the immigration systems of traditional immigration countries. For example, there is no waiting list of foreigners who want to join their spouses in Germany because there is no numerical ceiling on such family unification. The only limits are that the spouse who is resident in Germany must have sufficient housing and income, and the newly resident spouse is prohibited from working during the first four years in Germany.
In the view of some observers, Germany needs an integration policy more than it needs an immigration system with annual quotas for various types of entrants. In this view, the more pressing issue is dealing with the growth of the foreign population within Germany, rather than adding more foreigners to be integrated. In any event, given currently high levels of unemployment, the parliament might not approve the entry of employment-related immigrants, the chief category under discussion.
Economic Integration and Migration
The German-Polish border has been fought over for centuries and includes several episodes of forced migration. Against this background, most current migration issues can be traced to 1989, when Germany accepted as final its loss of territory to Poland, the borders were opened, and Poles arrived in Berlin to trade in flea markets and to work illegally. Germany responded by granting visa-free entry to Poles but limiting the right to work to those who qualified under a series of programs.
Polish-German migration today is complex. Many Poles work seasonally in Germany, and informal networks are helping Poles to become more important in agriculture, as private household help, and in similar labor markets. In the other direction, an estimated 200,000 to 250,000 ethnic Germans who were driven out of what is now western Poland after World War II have returned to Poland to live. They retain the right to return to Germany at any time.
Poland is also a country of transit migration, as migrants from further east and south use Poland as a springboard to western Europe. In 1995, there were some 188 million entries into Poland, including 85 million from the west (from Germany). Divided by nationality, some 63 million entries were by Poles and 125 million by foreigners.
Polish border police, with the help of $66 million worth of German equipment, apprehended about 16,000 illegal border crossers in 1995, down from a peak 34,000 in 1992; another 150,000 to 200,000 foreigners were refused entry into Poland on the eastern border. Some 3200 foreigners applied for asylum in Poland in 1996, up from 842 in 1995, but many foreign asylum applicants disappear during the proceedings. For example, in 1996, 317 Afghanis applied for asylum in Poland, and 10 were recognized as refugees, 7 were refused refugee status, and 300 cases were discontinued, usually because the applicant disappeared.
For many reasons, Germany is embracing the integration of Poland into the EU, which raises the question of how closer economic integration will affect migration patterns. Poland was one of the first East European nations to liberalize its economy, and today Poland is sometimes described as the "rising star of Europe" because of its rapid economic growth. However, there has been little net job growth in Poland.
Integration into the EU is expected to produce a second economic shock and a temporary migration hump as more of Poland's industries become non-competitive. In the formerly German area of northern Poland, collective agriculture will have to be restructured, displacing many farmers many of whom will move.
In the case of the US and Mexico under NAFTA, a migration hump was predicted and seems to be occurring. Migration specialists predicted that the combination of continued demand for Mexican workers in the US and more supply push, especially in rural Mexico, would result in a temporarily increased flow of Mexicans following their networks to US jobs. Helped by a peso devaluation and an economic crisis in Mexico, and rapid job growth in the US, 1997 Mexican migration seems to be at its highest-ever levels..
Opening the borders of eastern Europe has created opportunities and problems. The opportunities include new job growth due to increased trade. Among the problems are crimes associated with alien and drug smuggling, car theft, and smuggling of stolen or untaxed goods.
The German Bundsgrenzschutz has 35,000 employees who handle everything from arrival inspections to deterring illegal alien and goods smuggling. Germany is separated from Poland on the east by the Oder and Neisse rivers, relatively shallow rivers.
Germany has invested significant resources on both sides of its eastern border--it has provided funds to equip the Polish border patrol, and it has hired additional border guards to prevent entries. There is no fence on the German-Polish border, but there are heat-seeking devices on helicopters, on boats that patrol the river, agents with infrared scopes, and other means of detecting persons trying to enter over the so-called green border.
Over 27,000 foreigners were apprehended trying to enter Germany over its eastern borders in 1997, down 9 percent from 1995, including 13,000 illegal aliens in the Frankfurt/Oder area. The number of foreigners apprehended who were being smuggled into Germany by gangs rose 11 percent to 7400.
The German authorities return most foreigners apprehended to Poland. Poland does not accept the return of foreigners under 18, so German border police seeking to return adolescent border-crossers to Poland have doctors examine those who claim to be 17 to certify the legitimacy of returning them to Poland.
German border police confiscate the cars and boats used to smuggle aliens into Germany, but they express frustration that the smugglers stay one step ahead of their efforts to police the border. Some smugglers reportedly promise their customers three attempts to get them into Germany, and assure them that that will suffice.
Appendix 1: Foreign Worker Programs
Germany has 5 distinct foreign worker programs that involve some 350,000 foreigners each year, and add the equivalent of about 150,000 full-time equivalent workers to the German work force. However, unlike 1960s guest worker programs, 1990s foreign worker programs have a different purpose--to cope with micro rather than macro labor shortages, and to make inevitable migration legal. German foreign worker programs today also have different incentives for the workers involved; today the emphasis is on ensuring return to their countries of origin.
The most important program involves project-tied workers. Under this program, German firms sub-contract with foreign firms, and the foreign firm supplies the expertise and workers to complete a particular phase of a project. There were an average 40,000 project-tied foreign workers in Germany in 1994, down from 60,000 in 1992 because of scandals that involved German contractors using project-tied agreements as a backdoor guest worker program.
Most newly-arrived foreign workers are employed seasonally in Germany. A peak 150,000 seasonal foreign workers in 1994 contributed the equivalent of 40,000 FTE to the German labor force. Seasonal foreign workers can remain 90 days in Germany, and most are employed in agriculture, restaurants, or construction. If the workers are employed less than 2 months, the workers and their employers do not have to pay social security taxes on their wages.
The third program is for border commuters from the Czech Republic and Poland. If local workers are not available in Germany within 50 km of these eastern borders, then employers can request permission from the German Employment Service to employ commuter workers at prevailing wages who can remain in Germany for up to 2 nights weekly.
The fourth program permits about 6000 young East Europeans to work and learn in Germany for up to 18 months, although evaluations indicate that Czechs, Poles, and other East Europeans learn few skills in Germany that they use at home. Finally, about 1000 nurses from the former Yugoslavia are allowed to work in Germany.
In both the US and Germany, there has been a shift in the rationale for temporary foreign worker programs. Instead of recruiting foreign workers to deal with macro or widespread labor shortages, most programs today are justified as a way to deal with a micro labor shortage, or to channel into legal programs inevitable and otherwise illegal migrants. However, most of the industrial democracies have heeded the advice of the OECD and deregulated their labor markets, and most today play less of a job-matching role in labor markets--the German ES matches about 35 percent of all job seekers and jobs, the US ES 3 to 4 percent--giving governments less credibility when considering employer requests for foreign workers.
Making credible determinations in micro labor markets is not the only challenge facing governments. Governments may also have to pay more attention to programs that admit foreigners for non-employment reasons, but which add foreign workers to the labor force. Two examples are foreign students (almost 500,000 in the US) and the cultural exchange program (200,000), which bring au pair foreigners to US households.
Immigration, Integration, and Enforcement
Focus on Berlin and Poland
April 24-26, 1997
with the support of
the German Marshall Fund of the United States
and the Pew Global Stewardship Initiative
April 24, 1997
The purpose of Migration Dialogue is to promote among opinion leaders an off-the-record discussion of the major immigration and integration issues likely to face the industrial democracies. Three-day seminars are held in places where field trips allow participants to meet with migrants, service providers and others to discuss the day-to-day issues involved in dealing with immigration and integration.
Thursday, April 24, 1997
1:30 A small snack will be available in the Britz room before the start of the program.
2PM Welcome and Introductions (Conference Room "Britz"), Philip Martin, University of California, Davis
2:30PM Immigration and Integration in Germany: An Overview
Moderator: Philip Martin, University of California, Davis
Speakers: Rainer Münz, Humboldt University
Barbara John, Foreigners Commissioner for Berlin
1. What were the major differences between the five waves of immigration to postwar Germany and what were the implications of these differences for immigrant integration, e.g., burden-sharing with returning postwar Germans and East Germans, guest workers, asylum seekers, Aussiedler etc?
2. Does Germany "need" immigrants? Why or why not--what are the trade offs? Are there trade offs between immigration and naturalization policies or are they separate issues?
3. Germany gives considerable discretion to its 16 Länder in enforcing immigration laws and making integration policies. How do variations in Länder enforcement and integration policies affect immigration and integration? How influential are federal policies in setting Länder policies? Which Länder policies are more successful, and are these adopted by other Länder?
4. What are the major immigrant integration issues in Berlin? Do these vary by country of origin? What have been the major successes and failures in the integration of immigrants in Berlin?
4:15PM Regulating the Employment of Foreign Workers
Moderator: Leo Monz, Federation of German Trade Unions
Speakers: Hans von Lüpke, Section for Labor Market Inspection, Federal Employment Services
Employer perspectives: Dr. Hagedorn, Federation of German Employers
Union perspectives; Burkhard von Seggern, Federation of German Trade Unions
Discussant: David Howell, Policy and Planning, Immigration and Naturalization Service, Washington, and Zaïr Kedadouche, Inspection General des affaires sociales, Paris
1. How does Germany prevent unauthorized workers from finding and keeping jobs? How has the system evolved, and how well does it work?
2. How does Germany regulate the employment of legal foreign workers from Eastern Europe and the EU? What are the major issues and what changes are under consideration?
7:00-10 PM Welcome reception in meeting room Britz and dinner in Papillon, the Mercure's restaurant
Friday, April 25, 1997
6:00-8:00AM Breakfast in the Kindlsaal the hotel.
8:00AM Depart hotel by bus to construction site with labor inspectors and observe an inspection for labor laws and foreign worker employment.
Introduction (on bus): Frank Brandes, Section for Labor Market Inspection, Regional Employment Services, Berlin-Brandenburg
1 PM Lunch near the work site.
3PM Bus arrives at Alte (or Schitlik) Moschee, Columbiadamm 128; observe the end of religious services
3:30PM Religion and Immigrant Integration in Germany
Moderator: Rosi Wolf-Almanasreh, Office for Multicultural Affairs, Frankfurt
Speaker: Member of Muslim religious community
Katharina Wegner, Kirchenamt der Evangelischen Kirche in Deutschland,
Discussant: Susan Martin, Commission on Immigration Reform and Patrick Weil, Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Paris
Discussion questions: Options for Germany for "different" religions:
1. What are the characteristics of and variations in the religious beliefs among Turkish immigrants in Germany and Berlin, and how have these beliefs changed as a result of immigration?
2. How does Germany's support for some religions affect Islamic institutions in Germany?
5:30PM Bus departs mosque for Turkish market, near Schonleinstr U-bahn stop. After visiting market, meet at Bolu Grillhaus, Kottbusser Damm 103a, tel 692-2715 for discussion with Turkish community leaders and dinner. The restaurant overlooks the Turkish market.
6:30PM Discussion with community leaders and dinner
9PM Walk back to Hotel Mercure (about 1000 meters) The Ubahn station Schonleinstr is just outside the Bolu Grillhaus, there are three U-bahn stops between Boddinstrasse station and the Hotel Mercure.
Saturday, April 26, 1997
6:30-8:30AM Breakfast in the Kindlsaal the hotel.
8:30AM Current Issues in German Immigration and Integration (Conference room Britz)
Moderator: Elizabeth Midgley, Working English
Speaker: Kay Hailbronner, Universität Konstanz, Current status of and issues in asylum; return of Bosnians and Vietnamese.
9:30AM Economic Integration and Migration from and through Poland
Moderator: Michael Teitelbaum, Sloan
Speakers: Elmar Hönekopp, Federal Institute for Labor Market Research, Nürnberg, and Thomas Straubhaar, University of Hamburg
Discussant: Philip Martin, University of California-Davis
1. How much did fears of "too much migration" influence German policies to integrate the former East Germany? What were the major policies adopted, and what were their effects on migration?
2. What type of border integration was there between e.g. Germany and Poland before 1989, and how has border integration changed?
3. Germany allows Poles to enter the country without visas. How does Germany prevent Poles from residing or finding jobs in Germany? How do Germany and Poland cooperate to prevent the illegal entry of "third-country" nationals?
10:45AM The German-Polish border
Speaker: Elmar Hönekopp, Federal Institute for Labor Market Research, Nürnberg
11:15AM Depart Berlin by bus for lunch at Restauracja "Odra" (Oder River), Pl. Przyjazni 3,( Tel. 0 9558 26 21) Slubice, Poland, with Polish guests. TAKE YOUR PASSPORT.
1PM Lunch with Krzysztof Wojciechowski, Collegium Polonicum
2:30PM Bus tour of Slubice (Collegium Polonicum, flea market, sports stadium and cargo terminal)
4PM Return to Germany for drinks at Der Oderspeicher. Drive along the Oder River
4:30PM Arrive at Der Oderspeicher Restaurant near bridge linking Frankfurt/Oder and Slubice, Poland.
5PM Discussion with Jürgen Reimann, Head of the Border Patrol, Frankfurt/Oder, on illegal immigration
7:45PM Depart restaurant for tour with Border Patrol
10 PM Bus returns to Berlin after joining land and water night patrols