The Bundestag, Germany’s lower house of parliament, approved the new “Repatriation Improvement Act” (Rückführungsverbesserungsgesetz) on 18 January. The law provides for a significant tightening of deportation rules.
Among other things, the maximum period of pre-deportation custody is to be extended from 10 to 28 days. The number of cases in which public prosecutors are to be involved in deportations from detention is to be reduced. Deportations should also no longer have to be announced, unless families with children under the age of twelve are affected.
The law makes it easier to search for information and documents to clarify the identity of persons to be deported. Authorities should also be able to enter premises other than the room of the foreigner to be deported in a shared accommodation centre. Appeals and legal action against entry and residence bans should no longer have a suspensive effect on deportation plans.
Another new aspect of the law is that minors should not be detained pending deportation or held in custody pending departure.
As at 31 December 2023, around 242,600 people in Germany were required to leave the country. About half of whom are rejected asylum seekers.
Persons obliged to leave the country with a rejected asylum application mainly come from four countries Afghanistan (12.3 per cent), Iraq (11.7 per cent), Nigeria (7.9) and Iran (5.5).
The Ministry of the Interior does not anticipate a massive increase in deportations with the new law. “It is assumed that the tightening of the obligation to leave the country will increase the number of deportations by around 600 (five per cent),” the draft bill states, adding that the German government is also aware that a stricter deportation law is only one side of the coin. After all, deportations are not possible without countries of origin willing to accept their citizens back.
Eighty per cent of those “required to leave the country” have a tolerated stay. This means that they have been asked to leave the country but cannot be deported “for factual or legal reasons”.
The number of those “directly required to leave the country” is around 48,700 (as of December 2023). These are people who have not had their tolerated stay extended and could be deported immediately. However, they could also have already left the country.
Third-country nationals who do not have residence status and asylum seekers whose application has been rejected are obliged to leave the country. This means that they must leave the federal territory immediately or within a certain period of time. In the case of rejected asylum seekers, this period is 30 days – or one week if they come from safe countries of origin.
If they do not comply with the request to leave the country, they can be deported. The federal states are responsible for enforcing deportation.
The local immigration authorities first check whether there are any obstacles to deportation. If this is not the case, a deportation date is set, which is not communicated to the person concerned
If a person who is obliged to leave the country has previously evaded deportation or there is a significant risk of absconding, they may be taken into custody.
Foreign nationals who have been deported are subject to a re-entry ban, the duration of which is determined by the responsible immigration authority.