Increased efforts to deport rejected asylum-seekers will force many to opt for the life of an undocumented migrant, refugee support activists say/Photo: AfricanCourierMedia

German government approves plan for faster deportations of asylum-seekers

The Federal Government has today approved a draft law aimed at faster repatriation of migrants who are obliged to leave the country.

“Only if it can be ensured that those who are subject to an enforceable obligation to leave our country actually do leave, does Germany have the possibility to continue to admit those people who need our protection,” reads the draft law, which the federal cabinet passed in Berlin on Wednesday morning.

The government plans still have to be debated and passed by the Bundestag.

Here are the main features of the draft legislation:

  • The maximum duration of detention pending repatriation is to be extended from currently ten to 28 days, which should give the authorities more time to prepare for the process.
  • In the search for deportees in collective accommodation, the police would be able to enter the premises of third parties. At least if they have reason to suspect that the wanted persons are there.
  • Detainees who are obliged to leave the country should no longer be notified of their deportation. The current one-month notice requirement for deportations after at least one year of toleration is also to be dropped. Exceptions are planned for families with children under 12 years of age.
  • Members of criminal organisations should be able to be deported more easily in the future.
  • The deportation of migrant smugglers who have been sentenced to at least one year in prison is to be made easier. The smuggling of children is also to become a punishable offence.
  • Flats are to be searched for data carriers and documents in order to clarify the identity and nationality of the persons concerned.
  • In order to relieve the authorities, provisional residence during the asylum procedure is to be approved for six months at a time instead of the current three months.

People can be deported if they are obliged to leave the country. According to the law, the prerequisite is that they are not threatened with serious harm in the country of destination. Reasons such as illness can also prevent deportation.

The authorities first set a deadline for foreigners without a residence permit to leave the country voluntarily. Once this period has expired, they can be deported. Deportees are not allowed to re-enter the country for a limited period of time. They have to bear the costs of repatriation themselves.

Between January and June of this year, there were a total of 7,861 deportations from Germany, according to information provided by the federal government. In the same period last year, there were 6,198 deportationsr.

On 30 June, a total of 279,098 people in Germany were obliged to leave the country – but only a fraction of them are potentially threatened with deportation. This is because 224,768 of these people have a so-called toleration (Duldung).

Tolerated persons are people who are obliged to leave the country but could not deported for certain reasons. This may be because they have no identity documents, are ill or have a minor child who has a residence permit.

Not all persons who are obliged to leave the country are rejected asylum-seekers. For example, someone can also be obliged to leave the country because their visa expires. As of the end of June, there were 13,784 rejected asylum-seekers in Germany without toleration.

Officials say that they are hindered from carrying out deportations by several factors. For example, travel or identity documents of the persons to be deported may not be available. And the home countries of the persons may also not cooperate with the German authorities.

In order to overcome these stumbling blocks, the German government is seeking migration agreements with the migrants’ countries of origin. For the cooperation of these countries, their citizens would be given opportunities for legal immigration to Germany.

The Chancellor had announced in an interview with the weekly magazine “Der Spiegel” that his government would adopt a hardline course on asylum-seekers.

Femi Awoniyi

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