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February 1998, Volume 5, Number 2

Germany: Data, Ethnic Germans, Asylum

The German Labor Ministry on January 8, 1998 released the latest "Ausländer in Deutschland" report http://www.bma.de). As of December 31, 1996, there were 7.3 million foreign residents in Germany, up about 140,000 from the end of 1995, and representing about nine percent of the country's 82 million residents. About 1.8 million, 25 percent, of the foreigners were from one of the other 14 EU nations, including 600,000 Italians, 363,000 Greeks and 185,000 Austrians.

Non-EU foreigners were led by two million Turks and 754,000 Yugoslavs. Between 1990 and 1996, the number of foreigners from the sending countries of the past few decades such as Greece and Turkey, rose by two million, including 400,000 more Turks, almost 100,000 more Yugoslavs, and 40,000 more Greeks and Italians; the number of Moroccans, Spaniards and Tunisians was stable. The fastest percentage growth in foreigners was from countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran; there were 111,000 Iranians living in Germany, the same as the number of Dutch (113,000) and British (117,000) residents.

About 20 percent, or 1.4 million of the foreigners, were born in Germany; 106,000 foreigners were born in Germany in 1996, and they accounted for 13 percent of the 800,000 births.

Foreigners continue to migrate in and out of Germany. In 1996, there were 708,000 entries and 559,000 exits, so that the foreign population increased by 148,000 from net migration of e.g, spouses and family members. Germany permits family members to join foreigners who have been in Germany at least one year and who meet housing and income requirements. Many Turks and Iraqis apply for family unification visas in Ankara. The German Embassy there is using genetic testing on a trial basis to determine if visa applicants are in fact related to persons in Germany. Saliva samples are taken from the visa applicants and settled family members in Germany and tested at the laboratories at the University of Muenster.

At the end of 1996 there were about 2.1 million employed foreigners and 482,000 unemployed foreigners, for an unemployment rate of 19 percent. Foreigners were nine percent of the 22 million employed workers in the former West Germany. About one-fourth of the employed foreigners were Turks (578,000), followed by 408,000 Yugoslavs and 203,000 Italians. Foreigners sent DM7.4 billion to their countries of origin in 1996, about the same as in 1994 and 1995.

An average of 46,000 foreigners were employed in Germany in 1996 as project-tied workers (Werkvertragsarbeitnehmer), down from a peak 95,000 in 1992. About half were Polish, and over half worked in construction.

Politics. The Christian Social Union in January announced that the party would focus on reducing crime and immigration in its 1998 campaign, which culminates in federal elections September 27, 1998. The CSU has 180,000 members, its partner, the Christian Democratic Party, 650,000. The SPD has 780,000 members and the Greens, 49,000.

A new 2,000-member political party led by Manfred Brunner, the Alliance of Free Citizens-Offensive for Germany, was launched in January 1998. It plans to campaign on an anti-euro and anti-immigrant platform.

Asylum. Some 104,353 foreigners applied for asylum in Germany in 1997, down from 116,367 in 1996. About 16 percent of the asylum applicants were Turks (16,840), followed by 15 percent from the former Yugoslavia (14,789), and 14 percent Iraqis (14,088); the Iraqi number was up 30 percent over 1996, and may represent Kurds entering through Italy.

The Federal Office for the Recognition of Foreign Refugees processed 170,801 asylum applications during 1997, and granted refugee status to 8,443 persons, about five percent. An additional seven percent of the applicants were permitted to remain in Germany, 9,779 were granted protection from deportation and 2,768 were allowed to stay in Germany temporarily because of danger at home.

Baden-Wurttemberg will propose in the German Bundesrat that foreigners who illegally arrive in Germany should not receive any assistance under the asylum law. Instead, such foreigners would receive in-kind assistance.

Ethnic Germans. Some 2.5 million ethnic Germans have resettled in Germany since 1981, including 134,400 in 1997. About 20 percent of the ethnic Germans resettling in Germany are under 21, and many of these youth are having trouble integrating in Germany.

Their employment, failure to speak German and perceptions that ethnic German youth are responsible for a disproportionate amount of crime have reportedly led many Germans to turn against ethnic Germans, calling them Russians despite the fact that they receive German passports upon arrival in Germany. Germany has taken several steps to reduce tensions, including limiting the number of ethnic Germans who can move to Germany to 225,000 a year, and requiring them to pass a German language test before departing for Germany.

Labor Market. In Germany, unemployment rose in December 1997 to 4.5 million, a postwar record of 11.8 percent. Unemployment in 1997 averaged 11.4 percent, up from 10.4 percent in 1996. About 34 percent of those unemployed in Germany, 1.5 million workers, have been jobless for one year or more.

EU members agreed in mid-December 1997 that part-time workers should enjoy the same basic working conditions as full-time workers, but that questions of payroll taxes and benefits should be decided county-by-country. In Germany, workers earning less than DM610 ($340) a month do not participate in Unemployment Insurance, health, and pension systems, which means that these workers and employers share payroll tax savings of 25 to 30 percent.

Newsletter. Migration und Bevölkerung is a new bimonthly newsletter in German published by Rainer Munz and Ralf Ulrich of Humboldt University in Berlin. The January 1998 issue contains 12 articles, including three on Germany and four on the US. The newsletter can be found at: http://www.demographie.de/frames/frame_news1.htm />

"Asylum seekers in Germany decrease, sharp rise in Iraqi Kurds" Deutsche Presse-Agentur, January 13, 1998. Ruth Walker, "Flight of Kurds Opens Holes in Europe's Borders," Christian Science Monitor, January 12, 1998.