Seehofer speeds up the refugee issue

Seehofer speeds up the refugee issue

Federal minister of the interior horst seehofer (CSU) wants to step up the pace on the refugee issue and demands more staff for the federal office in charge of the matter. In addition, the first pilot centers for refugees, in which the entire asylum procedure is to take place, are to start operating as early as this fall.

Seehofer announced during his inaugural visit to the federal office for migration and refugees (BAMF) in nurnberg that he would present his "master plan for migration" to the cabinet by the summer break at the latest. In september or october, up to five pilot centers for refugees in the major federal states are to begin operations.

In his draft law on family reunification for refugees with limited (subsidiary) protection, he has "strictly" adhered to the coalition agreement, seehofer said. He therefore does not understand the debate triggered by the coalition partner SPD at this stage of the procedure. "I advise us all to be calm. There’s still time enough for excitement if you don’t get along in the departmental annexation," he said.

The point of this coordination process between the ministries is that all parties involved were able to contribute their ideas. The current debate is therefore "peculiar" and "rather unusual": "it would not be acceptable if we did this on every bill."

Seehofer’s draft law to regulate family reunification for people with limited protection status as of august. This group – which includes many syrians – currently has practically no relatives to catch up with. According to the coalition agreement, the union and SPD want to allow a maximum of 1,000 family members to join them per month.

But there is a dispute over how the agreement is to be structured. SPD criticized narrow criteria for the selection of employees. Aubenminister heiko maas (SPD) warned the union not to deviate from the agreed compromise.

Seehofer said that he did not want the number of immigrants to exceed 1000 per month. But he said it was "an insinuation that we are working toward falling significantly short of that". "Moreover, we do not want immigration into the social systems. This is already a clear rule in the current law," explained seehofer.

He expressly praised the work of the BAMF. The federal office has a "key function" in dealing with migration issues and is doing an "outstanding" job in this regard. If this quality is to be maintained or even optimized, the federal office will need "significantly more personnel," seehofer said. He then also hopes for a further acceleration of asylum procedures – currently, new procedures take an average of three months – and an improvement in the quality of the procedure. He will therefore do everything he can to push this through in the budget negotiations.

The german city council also urged for an acceleration of the procedures – especially for the so-called old cases, as chief executive helmut dedy told the german press agency. Overall, asylum procedures last an average of 9.4 months. "The BAMF is therefore called upon to continue working on accelerated asylum procedures without reducing the quality of the decision."

Together with the BAMF and "in close cooperation with the countries," seehofer wants to develop a concept for the so-called pilot anchor centers in the next few weeks. There could still be a location plan before the summer break. When asked whether bamberg was a possibility, he said: "bamberg is very highly praised in all discussions for what is already there."

Asylum seekers are to arrive at the anchor centers, stay until a decision is made on their asylum application and, in the event of a rejection, be returned to their home country from there. Aid organizations therefore criticize that the centers are in reality deportation camps. Seehofer, on the other hand, said: "if the people are here for a longer period of time, then numerous obstacles to return emerge. His goal, however, is to significantly increase the number of returns.

If the federal government wanted to be more involved in this issue, however, legislative changes would be necessary – possibly even to the basic law. Therefore, he wants to start with "pilot projects that do not require any changes in the law". Otherwise, "we’ll be discussing this until christmas". According to dedy, the city council would be buried if the federal government were to take on more responsibility when it came to deportations.

According to a "spiegel" report, another of seehofer’s goals is to declare georgia a so-called safe country of origin, in addition to the maghreb states of tunisia, algeria and morocco, in order to facilitate deportations there.

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