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Family man to be deported after 35 years in Germany for violating residence permit rules

The threatened deportation of a 3-person Vietnamese family is causing protest as the man has lived in Germany since 1987


A Vietnamese man, who has been living in Germany for 35 years, is to be deported together with his wife and five-year-old daughter. The case is causing outrage in the eastern German state of Saxony.

Here’s the unusual story:

The settlement permit (Niederlassungserlaubnis) of Pham Phi Son, who came to the defunct East Germany in 1987 as a contract worker, was revoked back in 2018. The authorities cancelled his permanent residence permit because he stayed for more than six months outside the country. He had travelled to Vietnam.

According to his family, Pham Phi Son had extend his stay in his homeland due to medical treatment. By staying outside Germany for more than six months, he violated the conditions of his permanent residence status. As a result, the 65-year-old, his wife and their daughter, who was born in Chemnitz, lost their residence permits and work permits.

Pham Phi Son had lived in Chemnitz until 2017 without any criminal records. He had a flat, a job and he paid taxes. Then his youngest daughter Emilia, who is now 5 years old, was born. Son wanted to have her birth and her German citizenship certified, but something caught the eye of the official handling the application. A year earlier, Son had been on holiday in Vietnam and had stayed there for more than six months. After six months of residence outside Germany, however, a settlement permit usually expires.

In 2019, Pham Phi Son’s case ended up before the Saxon Hardship Commission (Härtefallkommission). It is the last resort for people who are obliged to leave the country and want to have their cases reviewed. The panel rejected the application, whereupon the family went into hiding and, according to their own statements, accommodated by acquaintances.

After several years in hiding, Pham Phi Son then applied for a retrial by the Hardship Commission at the beginning of the year. However, the chairman of the panel, Saxony’s Commissioner for Foreigners Affairs (Ausländerbeauftragte), Geert Mackenroth, a member of the CDU, refused.

The case is causing outrage across Germany. Etelka KobuĂź, the foreigners’ representative of the city of Chemnitz, described the decision of the Saxon Hardship Commission as “simply unbearable from a human and moral point of view”.

An online petition against the decision of the chairman of the Commission has so far collected 40,000 signatures. The initiators of the petition hope to obtain a public hearing on the case in the state parliament. In Saxony, 12,000 votes from residents of the state are needed for this to be considered – so far, however, only about 9,000 of the more than 40,000 signatures have come from the state.

Femi Awoniyi

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