NewsGermany toughens up. Bundestag enacts law to enhance deportation efficiency

Germany toughens up. Bundestag enacts law to enhance deportation efficiency

A van from the German police
A van from the German police
Images source: © NurPhoto via Getty Images | NurPhoto

4:35 AM EST, January 19, 2024

In response to a call from the Chancellor, the Minister of the Interior, Nancy Faeser, a representative of the SPD party like her superior, proposed a bill intending to "simplify repatriation". On Thursday evening, Bundestag deputies voted in support of the bill. The AFP news agency provides a Q&A detailing deportation challenges and outlining the benefits the new regulations may bring.

How many people were recently asked to leave Germany?

According to the Ministry of the Interior, nearly 242,642 people were told to exit Germany as of December's end. However, roughly 200 thousand of these individuals possessed a permit for a tolerated stay in the country. This indicates that, for four in every five persons set to be expelled, their deportation had been halted. The reasons for this varied, including concerns about the security situation in their home country, children with a residence permit, ongoing vocational training, health issues, or a lack of a valid passport or travel documentation.

In 2023, how many deportations occurred?

Ministry of Interior records reveal that nearly 16.5 thousand individuals were sent back from Germany last year. This represents a quarter rise (27 percent) from 2022, when about 13 thousand deportations were undertaken. This, in turn, resulted in an eight percent boost compared to 2021.

Why do a significant number of deportations fail?

In the previous year, deportation was unsuccessful for almost 32 thousand people. This is two-thirds of the total planned repatriations. Causes include cancelled deportation flights, untraceable whereabouts of foreigners obliged to leave Germany, refusal by the destination country to accept deportees, or medical issues.

What enhanced powers will the new repatriation law grant the police?

Police will be given broader powers to conduct searches. This primarily involves searching for documents and data that validate a person's identity, aiding the establishment of their country of origin. Additionally, officers based in communal accommodation centres will be able to search rooms beyond that of the person set for deportation. If needed, it will also be permissible to pick up deportees at night, for instance, if a deportation flight organized by another country is scheduled early in the following morning.

How will detention capacities for those awaiting deportation be increased?

The proposed legislation will extend the maximum pre-departure isolation period from the current 10 days to 28 days. This allows authorities additional time to organize deportations and to deter potential escape attempts by those slated for deportation. A distinct legal precedent will also be introduced to detain individuals who have violated entry and residency constraints. This will apply to foreigners initially granted entry into Germany but subsequently instructed to leave. Furthermore, the scope of "co-operation detention" will be broadened to cases where a foreigner fails to disclose information necessary for determining their nationality.

How will the speedy deportation of smugglers be managed?

New regulations aim to ease the deportation of individuals under the law covering residence, employment, and integration of foreigners. In the future, those convicted of smuggling and sentenced to at least a year's imprisonment will represent a "particularly severe ground for deportation." Moreover, the penalties for smugglers will be further intensified.

Can gang members be deported irrespective of the sentence's severity?

The initial bill envisaged a new protocol for penalizing foreign gang members, which would have served as a basis for their deportation - irrespective of the severity of their sentencing. However, this now seems unlikely. Instead, an amendment submitted by the governing coalition focuses on repeat offenders who have been definitively convicted multiple times within a single year.

What about anti-Semitic offenses?

The coalition's amendment plans assert that an established anti-Semitic motivation for a crime constitutes a serious ground for deportation. This covers motives related to racism, xenophobia, gender, or sexual orientation.

Will this law expedite deportations?

The Ministry of the Interior forecasts only a modest surge in deportations: "It is projected that, as a result of the tightening of the leave obligation, the number of deportations will increase by about 600 (five percent)," states the bill. The German government acknowledges that a stricter deportation law forms only one side of the equation. If the countries of origin are unwilling to permit entry to deportees, the deportations cannot proceed.

Source: Deutsche Welle

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