Following the adoption of the two asylum packages, a law is now to regulate how migrants with good prospects of remaining can integrate themselves. Hamburg’s Archbishop Hebe considers the proposal to be understandable – criticism has been voiced by aid organizations.
The night’s work was not apparent to anyone: German Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU), Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel (SPD) and Bavaria’s Prime Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU) appeared alert and tidy when they presented the results of the coalition summit on Thursday. In addition to measures to combat terrorism, pension reform and temporary employment, they announced a novelty: for the first time, Germany is to receive an integration law.
Principle of demanding and promoting
The coalition leaders had agreed on the key points during the night. According to the law, "the principle of demanding and promoting" is to apply. This includes an "obligation to cooperate in integration measures offered". If an asylum seeker refuses a measure, benefits under the Asylum Seekers’ Benefits Act are to be reduced. Reliable offers should be created, which should be graduated for refugees with good prospects of staying and for those with not so good prospects," Merkel emphasized.
Refugees already receive proof of arrival. With the receipt they are to get a residence permit, so that the asylum seeker can get "legally secure and early" among other things access to the labor market and integration services. Merkel emphasized that the core of the planned law is to ensure that as many refugees as possible receive the necessary qualifications to have opportunities in the labor market.
During their training, those affected should have legal security of residence. In the event of termination, the residence title of the toleration automatically expires. For a period of three years, the priority check, which favors native or European applicants, is to be waived for asylum seekers and tolerated persons. Refugees can thus also be hired as temporary workers. Refugees with good prospects of remaining in the country and tolerated persons are to receive a training grant under certain conditions.
In order to create an additional integration incentive for recognized refugees and persons entitled to asylum, an unlimited Dutch permit should only be granted if the corresponding integration achievements have been made. However, the special situation of the refugees should be taken into account, it is said. Residence allocation also addressed. Merkel wants to discuss the concrete details with the federal states on March 22. April speak.
First step toward an immigration law
Chancellery chief Peter Altmaier (CDU) had announced on Tuesday that the concept would be discussed on 24. May at a closed-door meeting in Meseberg to decide on the concept. Vice Chancellor Gabriel stressed that the law is the first step towards an immigration law, which the SPD has been demanding for a long time. It is a start for a "profound change in society". His party also advocated at the end of last year that at least five billion euros should be made available for additional housing, more daycare and all-day places, and measures for the labor market.
Seehofer also seems satisfied with the plans. The planned law complements well with the existing integration laws of the states. It opens up the opportunity for successful integration.
Archbishop Hebe pleads for case-by-case examination
The Refugee Commissioner of the German Bishops’ Conference, Archbishop Stefan Hebe, has commented on the federal government’s key points paper for an integration law. The dual orientation of promoting and demanding is in principle understandable, said the Archbishop of Hamburg on Thursday in Berlin on request. If the willingness to integrate is demanded of immigrants, it must also be ensured that sufficient integration offers are available, continued Hebe.
At the same time, he stressed that the different circumstances and conditions of each individual case must be taken into account. This must of course also apply to circumstances that could lead to an asylum seeker being only conditionally receptive to a new language. In addition, no one should be disadvantaged who expresses his opinion, demanded Hebe.
He expressly welcomed the fact that the so-called priority check for asylum seekers and tolerated persons is to be suspended for three years. It stipulates that those affected may only hold a job if there are no local applicants.
Aid organizations express criticism
Criticism, on the other hand, came from aid organizations. The federal government is planning a disintegration law, explained Pro Asyl managing director Gunter Burkhardt in Berlin. In reality, he said, there is a supply deficit of the federal government, not an unwillingness of the refugees to integrate. Burkhardt went on to say that an integration law that provides for sanctions "promotes the prejudice, contrary to all the facts, that refugees do not want to integrate".
The German Children’s Fund said the planned law neglected the concerns of refugee children and their families. The German Association of Cities welcomed the fact that the key points took up the municipalities’ wish for a more even distribution of recognized refugees. He appealed to the federal government to take over the considerable additional accommodation costs for Hartz IV recipients for recognized refugees and asylum seekers.
Among the associations, the coalition’s plan initially met with cautious approval. German Association of Cities and Counties praised the plans. However, the church social welfare associations Diakonie and Caritas were critical of the benefit cuts. The willingness to integrate cannot be achieved through sanctions, explained Caritas.