Should immigration be restricted


3. Proposals for a holistic immigration concept for the Federal Republic of Germany

3.1. Necessity of a new, holistic conception for an immigration policy

The previous policy on foreigners and refugees is a mess. The self-set goals, e.g. B. the limitation of further immigration could not be redeemed. The social tensions in the communities have tended to increase rather than decrease over the past decade. As before, many migrants who have been living with us for a long time are excluded from equal participation in social decision-making processes and consciously or unconsciously isolate themselves from the locals. This is due in large part to a policy that has failed to recognize that Germany has become a country of immigration and is even dependent on immigration for economic reasons. As a wealthy industrialized country in the heart of Europe, Germany also has a responsibility to help alleviate the global refugee problem.

It is the combination of wrong diagnoses and prognoses, short-term legislative initiatives and contradicting target formulations with the simultaneous claim to be able to be "master of the processes" that make the criticism and the discontent of many citizens understandable. Politics has failed to encourage acceptance among the population for an opening up of our society to immigrant groups and the ethnic minorities that have developed from them. Instead, the impression is growing that national isolationist tendencies are increasing and that ethno-centrist worldviews are regaining the upper hand. The party dispute over the right of asylum, whose legal subtleties can only be understood by a minority of the population without a social perspective or a social vision of further development becoming clear in this dispute, certainly increases the disaffection with the state and party of many citizens.

3.2. Requirement for a new political self-image

The unification of Germany brings with it a variety of new tasks and burdens in the old and new federal states. The construction in the new federal states requires a tremendous effort, the magnitude of which is only now becoming clear to everyone. However, this must not lead to the Federal Republic of Germany concentrating only on its national problems and neglecting its responsibility in the international community. With unification the political importance of Germany in the world has undoubtedly increased. Isolation and the strengthening of national narrow-mindedness must not be the result of the unification process. The situation in the "heart of Europe" and our economic strength require that we actively help shape the European unification process initiated within the framework of the EC and, above all, support the Eastern and Southeastern European states in the restructuring and democratization of their societies, both ideally and materially. Only this and not the erection of new walls can help prevent the predicted "poverty migration" from Eastern Europe (Hönekopp, 1992 and 1991; Biermann, 1992).

3.3. Combating the causes of flight

The first aim must be to combat the causes that induce people to leave their homeland in order to find protection in other countries (Brandt, 1991). In section 1.3. The diversity of the causes of flight, their complexity and the dimensions of the world refugee problem have already been pointed out. It is obvious that these problems cannot be brought closer to a solution by one state alone, but only in the joint effort of the wealthy countries. A conception of development aid that takes greater account of the ecological and social factors that cause refugee movements is necessary at the national level. The first signs of reorientation can be seen in the federal government's refugee concept of September 1990. There, a stronger interlinking of the activities of various ministries is called for and development and economic aid is formulated as the goal, which aims to combat the causes of displacement. However, this can only be achieved if the material resources for this policy area are increased. The requirement of the United Nations that each country should provide 0.7% of the gross national product for development aid does not reach the Federal Republic of Germany. Their share is only 0.39%. Furthermore, more intensive international cooperation is necessary in order to be able to combat the causes of flight effectively. Committees and institutions such as the United Nations and the CSCE and a common foreign policy of the EC states must take greater account of the prevention of refugee movements in their political objectives.

3.4. Commitment to the immigration society

Even if efforts to combat the causes of displacement are drastically stepped up, success is not to be expected quickly. It can still be assumed that either many people want to immigrate to Germany voluntarily or have to flee to Germany for various reasons. The Federal Republic of Germany must not shut itself off from these people and must be open to these immigrants to a socially responsible extent. That this is necessary not only for humanitarian reasons, but also for the further economic and social development of our society, has been explained above.

It is time we finally recognized that Germany is a country of immigration - albeit a "new type" - and that ethnic minorities are an integral part of our community. The openness towards minorities requires a national self-image that defines the people not by origin and blood relationship, but by common basic convictions. "Constitutional patriotism" and not German-national feelings of superiority are required.

3.5. Immigration can be shaped

As mentioned, the legal possibilities to enter the Federal Republic of Germany were limited only to certain groups of foreigners, e.g. B. EC members and close family members of foreigners living here. On the other hand, at least until recently, the immigration of repatriates was unhindered. Our thesis is that the number of people who apply for asylum will decrease when new ways and forms of entry and legal protection of residence become possible for immigrants and refugees.

What is required is a comprehensive immigration law that applies to all categories of immigrants and that must be dovetailed with the asylum procedure. The initiative for this law should be taken by the democratic parties. This can help to increase the public's acceptance of such a conception of immigration policy. It is also important to include the relevant social groups such as trade unions, employers' associations, refugee and migrant organizations, churches, charities, scientists, etc. in the preparatory phase of this immigration concept, as is the case in Canada, for example (Immigration Canada, 1991; Körner, 1990 : 151 ff.). In addition, new political institutions and offices are required to ensure the rationality of political action in order to implement it in administrative activities and to continuously update this immigration policy. The aim must be to no longer react defensively to the challenges and to take restrictive measures to prevent entry, but rather to actively decide within which framework immigration should be controlled (Executive Board of the SPD, 1991).

The following suggestions are intended as an incentive for discussion and require supplementation and clarification of the content. But they should show the "direction" for future political and social activities.

3.6. refugee policy

From our considerations outlined in Section 2.5, there is a need to rethink various aspects of asylum law and asylum policy. The discussion about maintaining, changing or abolishing Article 16 of the Basic Law does not go far enough. Even today, further legal provisions of international agreements to which the Federal Republic of Germany has acceded are already binding. It would be important to reorganize asylum policy, which would have to be dovetailed with a holistic immigration policy. It is undisputed among the democratic parties that politically persecuted people should continue to be granted asylum in the Federal Republic of Germany. It is important that a European harmonization of asylum policy should be sought. In this context, it will have to be examined whether Article 16 of the Basic Law can be retained in its current form or whether it needs to be supplemented. In the following, we would like to point out some aspects from our point of view that should be taken into account.

The term refugee on which Article 16 of the Basic Law is based, paragraph 2, sentence 2 is relatively narrow. The recognition rate is therefore now around 10% incl. the approvals in court have fallen. In contrast, 57% of the rejected asylum seekers were allowed to stay in Germany in 1989 on the basis of other international agreements (e.g. Geneva Refugee Convention, European Convention on Human Rights). These facts are rarely mentioned in public discussion, so that many citizens get the impression of massive asylum abuse. Therefore, a discussion must be held about how the term refugee can be defined beyond the content-related provisions in Article 16 of the Basic Law in order to accept people who are threatened in their existence and who are not politically persecuted according to the definition of Article 16 of the Basic Law. A look at the statistics of asylum seekers from 1991 shows that this is urgently needed: 74,854 of the 256,112 asylum seekers came from Yugoslavia alone; this means that the increase in the number of asylum seekers compared to 1990 (193,063 people) is almost entirely due to the destabilization of the former state of Yugoslavia as a result of the civil war. In Germany, fleeing because of a civil war is not a sufficient reason to be recognized as a politically persecuted person under Article 16 of the Basic Law. Even the term refugee in the Geneva Refugee Convention does not cover these asylum seekers. However, refugees from civil war regions are currently being driven into the asylum procedure, which is generally hopeless for them, because they are not granted any other right of residence.

In these cases it would make more sense to issue a temporary residence permit without initiating an asylum procedure. A second option is to take in these refugees under the Quota Refugee Act. This set of legal instruments, created in 1980, enables groups of refugees to enter and stay in Germany without having to go through the asylum procedure. They are legally equal to those entitled to asylum. To date, this option has only been used to a limited extent. Until December 31, 1989, the following contingents were granted within the framework of humanitarian aid organizations for refugees (BMI, 1991: 73): Southeast Asia 38,332 (entered: 33,680), Chile 2,500 (entered: 1,456), Argentina 400 (entered: 88), Cuba 277 ( entered: 4) and Kurds 87 (entered: 87).

In the course of a European harmonization of asylum law, however, it is necessary to make the refugee concept of the Geneva Refugee Conventions the basis for decisions in Germany as well, as was customary until the mid-1970s. It must also be ensured that each case is examined individually and that the decision-making criteria are standardized. A European documentation center, from which the relevant information and data about the individual countries can be called up, could be very helpful for this. At this point we refer again to the description in Section 2.5, which shows that no procedural regulation can limit the immigration of refugees. What is important here is the effective fight against the causes of flight. In addition, we promise ourselves from an immigration policy that, for example, "poverty refugees" will be given another, legal route to immigration, thereby reducing the pressure on the asylum procedure.

If it is possible to achieve a high level of European harmonization of asylum law and asylum policy, further options for political control will arise. Just as in Germany the asylum seekers are distributed to the individual federal states based on certain criteria, the procedure could be Europe-wide. The aim is a fair distribution of the burdens according to the respective financial, organizational and economic capacities of the countries within the EC (Welt, 1992b). Interesting is the proposal of the SPD / Saar commission to link the allocation quotas within the EC and the expenditures for development aid. If the target of 0.7% of the gross national product for development aid is exceeded, the quota could be reduced, otherwise it could be increased. This increased the pressure on the individual countries to tackle the causes of flight more intensively.

3.7. Resettler policy

After the Second World War, it was an important task of the Federal Republic of Germany to take in displaced persons and refugees from the former eastern regions. Article 116 of the Basic Law was an expression of our moral obligation to take responsibility for the people who had become homeless as a result of the war, to keep them German citizenship and thus the opportunity to immigrate to the FRG. Today this article, which is to be assessed as the law of the consequences of war, no longer corresponds to historical developments. The initiation of democratic reform processes in Eastern Europe, the German-Polish treaty of 1991 and the recent German-Russian agreements no longer seem to justify the assumption that repatriates are still under pressure to expel them because of their commitment to German culture. The SPD / Saar position paper (page 21) lists further reasons for changing the policy of emigrants:

"After the accession of the GDR and the associated constitutional changes, the finality of the borders and the regaining of sovereignty under international law, the transitional character of the Basic Law has ended.

According to general international law, the determination of the circle of its citizens by a state is subject to certain limits, which result, among other things, from the existence of the personnel sovereignty of other states. In nationality law and thus also Article 116 of the Basic Law, all provisions that must be understood as an encroachment on the personnel sovereignty of other states are to be repealed. "

Preferential treatment over other foreigners willing to enter is no longer justified. The repatriates from Eastern and Southeastern Europe should no longer have a legal right to immigrate. They should also be included in immigration legislation and annual immigration quotas should be established for them, which also take into account economic and political developments in the individual countries.

3.8. Immigration law

We propose to pass an immigration law which defines which groups of people are allowed to immigrate and enter Germany, how the constitutional admission procedures should be organized and how the integration of new immigrants into our society can be supported and promoted.

The first component of the planning process must be to set a maximum immigration limit for which our society can guarantee the economic and social conditions for a decent life. To determine this number, coordination between the federal, state and local governments and relevant social groups is necessary. One should think of longer-term concepts, e.g. B. Five-year plans, as they were also developed in the classic immigration countries such as the USA and Canada, in order to be able to compensate for annual fluctuations (Immigration Canada, 1991; Fix, Passel, 1991). Without wanting to give an exact number in this paper, we think that in the long term the annual immigration of 300,000 to 500,000 people will prove to be justifiable for our society. It is important to emphasize that this number cannot be scientifically derived, but results from political decisions and has to be legitimized within the framework of parliamentary democratic procedures. It must be ensured that the federal states and municipalities are appropriately involved in the planning and decision-making process. The Federal Government should submit a report to the Bundestag once a year on the current developments in immigration.This should then be discussed in detail so that a parliamentary control of the administrative action is possible.

Annual immigration quotas can be established for:

- resettlers,

- new immigrants from other countries, - quota refugees,

- Family members of foreigners already living with us, in which case the degree of relationship should be decisive. Existing legal guarantees, such as spouses and children up to the age of 16, should not be restricted. In order to be able to include these migratory movements in the plan, prior application submissions should be considered.

The number of persons entitled to asylum in the previous year and the number of refugees remaining in Germany due to other legal regulations should be taken into account in the planning for the coming year so that the maximum limit is not exceeded in the long term. This procedure can only work if the asylum procedure is completed as quickly as possible and it is also determined in this procedure whether someone is allowed to stay in the country due to other legal regulations. There is an urgent need to speed up the procedures and pool decisions in one hand. Someone who has been rejected in this procedure has to leave the Federal Republic of Germany and is no longer allowed to gain access to Germany via the quota system. This coupling is necessary in order to actually achieve the intended effect of relieving the asylum procedure.

In our opinion, migrations within the European Communities should not be taken into account in the planned immigration law. In view of the goal of building a united Europe in which citizens can freely choose their job and place of residence and in which national citizenships will become less important, we do not consider it politically appropriate to include EC citizens in immigration planning.

In the criteria used to select immigrants, humane aspects should have priority over labor market considerations. It cannot be the goal to withdraw the most qualified and motivated 20-40 year olds willing to leave the developing countries in order to close the gaps in our workforce. The criteria for the selection of immigrants developed in other immigration countries cannot simply be transferred to the Federal Republic of Germany. Rather, it is important to develop selection criteria that take account of our historical development, our geographical location and our obligation towards the migrant groups who already live in Germany. However, the procedures and criteria developed in the classic immigration countries for controlling immigration should be analyzed and checked for their applicability for the Federal Republic of Germany. In Canada, for example, immigrants are selected according to individual criteria. Both labor market-related factors such as school education and occupation as well as social aspects such as family ties are taken into account. The individual criteria are weighted so that a number of points can be assigned to each applicant, which serves as a basis for decision-making. The advantage of such a procedure is that the decisions are transparent and there is little room for discretion. In addition to this selection based on individual factors, Canada has also set up quotas for "humanitarian" immigration, i.e. refugee immigration (Körner, 1990: 151 ff.).

A generous "old case regulation" for asylum seekers of the past as well as a reform of German citizenship law are part of such a new start in immigration policy. An acceleration of the asylum policy is failing at the moment solely because over 400,000 unfinished applications are piling up at the Federal Office for the Recognition of Refugees in Zirndorf and processing the cases will take years. Among other things, this is due to the fact that many of the approved posts have not yet been filled. Generous legal regulations for these "old cases", combined with the offer of social and professional integration, should be considered.

Furthermore, the naturalization law should be liberalized. The possibility of dual citizenship would help many second and third generation migrants and a large number of today's foreigners would become residents within a short period of time. In addition, the principle should be introduced that those born in Germany receive German citizenship. The French procedure should serve as an example here.

An immigration law must not limit itself to stipulating which persons are allowed to enter Germany and which are not. A central component of such a law must be measures and offers that contribute to realizing social, economic and political equality for immigrants. This requires special funding programs for the professional and linguistic qualification of immigrants. The long-term experience of the welfare associations and other organizations that carried out integration and learning opportunities for foreigners can be used in the new concept.

3.9. Institutional framework

New institutions are needed to design and implement this new immigration policy. It is important that this policy area is given high priority, that its defensive, purely defensive target is changed and that public acceptance of the new policy is promoted. It is necessary to set up new political and administrative structures:

A cross-departmental "Federal Office for Migration and Integration" should be created at the federal level. Its tasks are the conception of immigration policy as well as the coordination of the activities of other participating ministries (Bade, 1992b; Board of the SPD, 1991). The plans for immigration and the proposed integration concepts should be scientifically sound.

A "Standing Commission for Migration and Integration" should be assigned to this Federal Office, as the resigned Commissioner for Foreigners of the Federal Government, Ms. Funcke, called for in her last report from March 1991. Members of this commission should include: be: representatives of the parties, state secretaries of the ministries concerned, representatives of the Federal Council, representatives of the municipal umbrella organizations, representatives of the trade unions and employers, welfare associations, scientists and representatives of the immigrant population. The tasks of this commission include:

- counteract xenophobia;

- inform the local population about the importance and the achievements of immigrants;

- Support documentation and research in this area;

- Formulate basic concepts for integration and migration policy, which extend to all politics and areas of life.

A commissioner for foreigners should be appointed for each federal state. At the municipal level, the competencies and tasks of the foreigners commissioner should be expanded. The "Office for Multicultural Affairs" in Frankfurt could serve as an example of such a reorientation (Wolf-Almanasreh, 1992).

An office for migration issues should also be set up at European level, which can perform a coordinating function between the individual states. It is important that the European Parliament and the national parliaments are more involved in the decision-making processes than before.

© Friedrich Ebert Foundation | technical support | net edition fes-library | November 1998