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How Germany’s Asylum Law has complicated life for applicants

Asylum law passed by the German government last year has led to quick deportations and social isolation, a representative of the Protestant charity organization Diakonie has said.

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The new asylum law enables immigration officers to fast-track asylum procedures. Some may be processed even within a week depending on the applicant’s country of origin.

When Sabrina Pabst of DW asked Sebastian Ludwig, a consultant for refugee matters at Diakonie to assess the effects of this law, he said: “In September 2015, (Chancellor Angela) Merkel said: “We can do this.” Now that she has expressed the need for a national obligation to deport those who have been rejected, I ask myself, “What did she mean?” Everyone thought we would manage to accommodate the refugees.”

But that has not been the case. By looking at the results, one can conclude that Ms Merkel’s words had a completely different meaning. “She probably meant: We can prevent the refugees from coming and we can quickly send the rejected ones out of the country,” Mr Ludwig said.

He pointed out that the fast-track asylum law and the rule to implement a fast-track asylum procedure are not meant to speed up the asylum procedures. They “instead contain passages that make it possible to deport people more quickly,” Mr Ludwig told DW. “The number of employees at the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BaMF) has risen from 3,000 to 10,000. That is an extreme challenge for any organization. People there have a really hard job to do. The BaMF head’s announcement that the authorities would manage to process a million asylum requests this year is about quantity, not quality.”

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He noted that the high number of applications had made it difficult for the BAMF to carefully process them within the required time.

“The hearing is important in the asylum process because refugees can explain why they fled and why they believe they need protection,” Mr Ludwig said. “But if the hearing takes place under time pressure, then many do not open up and they only say that they are afraid to die or be killed – without further explanation. Yet applications are rejected because of contradictions. Another standard measure in the process is that the refugee is given another chance to fix their asylum application if it has been rejected because of contradictions. But that does not happen anymore.”

The Diakonie official also criticized the system of classifying asylum seekers into safe and unsafe countries of origin. “The fact that people are separated into nationalities is problematic, regardless of the outcome of the asylum procedure,” Mr Ludwig said.

While asylum applicants with good prospects of staying can work or undertake integration courses, those from the so-called safe countries cannot and must live in the reception centres throughout the asylum process. “That leads to complete isolation. Making up for the initial isolation costs much more time and money. Everyone’s expenses should be covered. Even if an asylum seeker has to return to their home country, an education or job training can help them. That is also a kind of development cooperation,” Mr Ludwig said.

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