“Required by constitutional law”

Family reunion of refugees © Swen Pfortner

Aid organizations call for relaxation of family reunification for refugees. Pro Asyl pleaded to lift the suspension of family reunification for so-called subsidiary protected refugees and to speed up reunification.

"The asylum package II has inhumane consequences. The Bundestag must correct its fatal decision," said Managing Director Gunter Burkhardt in Frankfurt. The German Children’s Fund and the Association of German Family Organizations (AGF) also call on the members of the Bundestag from the CDU/CSU and the SPD to reconsider their rejection of family reunification for refugees with subsidiary protection status.

No treatment in the Bundestag

In its session on Thursday, the Bundestag wanted to deal with a motion by the Green Party on deportations to Afghanistan and family reunification, as well as a motion by the Left Party on "unrestricted family reunification". However, as the press office of the Bundestag confirmed upon request, the agenda item on the topic of "family reunification" was cancelled on Wednesday. The left-wing parliamentary group said the grand coalition was preventing the debate. According to the Bundestag, a motion by the Greens on deportations to Afghanistan will continue to be debated.

Pro Asyl appealed to members of parliament with a public petition to "end the inhumane separation of refugee families and allow family reunion". More than 10.000 signatures within two days showed the "urgency" of this demand. Burkhardt stressed that this is not only "humanitarian and constitutionally required", but also serves integration purposes. "Those who are afraid for their relatives hardly have the energy to concentrate on language acquisition, education, work and integration in Germany," it said.

Debate about relaxing the regulation

The Children’s Fund said the suspension of family reunification for refugees with subsidiary protection status hit children particularly hard. Because the current legal situation means for families of subsidiary protection a separation for years. And for most unaccompanied refugee children, it is currently impossible to catch up with their parents, according to the president of the German Children’s Fund, Thomas Kruger.

People who cannot be granted protection either through recognition as a refugee or as a person entitled to asylum may be entitled to subsidiary protection. This is possible if someone is threatened with serious harm in their country of origin, such as torture or the death penalty.

The federal government had declared about a month ago that it was sticking to the temporary suspension of family reunification until 2018. In mid-March, the debate about family reunification and the restriction had flared up again.

While the SPD was in favor of allowing reunification in cases of hardship despite the suspension, the CDU/CSU brought up the idea of a longer suspension. Gerd Landsberg, Managing Director of the Association of Towns and Municipalities, also wants the current regulation to remain in place.

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