Global Independent Analytics

Germany learns how to send back migrants — pay them

To regulate the refugee population, Germany might want to adopt a common rule: to deport an immigrant peacefully – pay (or bribe) him

Anthony Faiola for The Washington Post reports: A contentious deal struck Friday between the European Union and Turkey aims to halt finally the historic wave of irregular migration to Europe from the Middle East and beyond. But Germany, ground zero of the refu­gee crisis, faces a separate problem — what to do about all those who are already here.

Authorities say that with the current immigration rates about half of 770,000 asylum requests will be rejected which means that the government should find a way how to send back those refugees who cannot stay. On such a scale deportations do not seem to be a solution to the problem, and the government decided to elicit a deliberate intention to return home by paying those who should leave.

21-year-old Lauand Sadek told his story: when he arrived in Germany from Iraq, he instantly regretted his decision. Unable to speak German, he was stuck in an overcrowded refugee camp with no chance to go out. When he was offered help from German authorities to return home and build a better life there, he agreed. Sadek received a free plane ticket and was granted with up to 6,000 euros to invest in a small business in his home country.

Faiola adds: “The offer suggests the philosophy being embraced on this side of the Atlantic, where mass deportations are considered not only a last resort, but also a less effective tool than persuading migrants to choose to leave. Pointing to the many Mexicans who are deported from the United States but soon try to make their way back, the Germans and some of their European neighbors are also seeking ways to coax migrants to leave permanently.”

Having sad memories of Germany’s Nazi and Cold War times, the country holds a sensitive position and does not want to risk by deporting illegal migrants. However, the challenge the country faces today is unprecedented: Merkel’s welcoming policy turned Germany into a refugee magnet. Not only those fleeing war from Syria and Iraq but also job seekers from Morocco and Bangladesh flocked here despite having little chance to win legal asylum.

To expel them Germany successfully combined both threats and inducements such as extra cash, business grants, even vocational training back in their homeland. A motivational plan for Iraqis includes flight ticket plus $1,000 upfront plus $5,400 as soon as a plan to develop business there is approved. Nearly 100 Iraqis were promised to have English classes and business grants. Under another program, more than 5,000 Kosovars have received up to 3,000 euros (which equals to nine months’ salary) to return.

Moreover, such voluntary deportations mean that the amount of traumatized immigrants, who would be otherwise sent home against their will, will decrease.

“German authorities are also forcibly repatriating more people, with expedited processing of economic migrants masquerading as refugees. After targeting nationals from Balkan nations, they are now focusing on North Africans and Afghans with weak cases for asylum. The number of migrants deported from Germany rose to 20,888 in 2015, almost double the number in 2014.

Still, far more migrants in Germany went back home willingly last year than were deported — at least 37,000. Compare that to, say, France, where deportations in 2015 outpaced voluntary returns by a margin of 3 to 1,” continues Faiola.

The voluntary returns now are the only chance Germany has to decrease the number of immigrants. Inspired by 2015 Merkel’s welcome speech, tens of thousands have crossed the German border, destroying their passports making it harder to send them back. Some nations, such as West Africa and parts of Asia, refuse to take back their citizens without a valid ID. The authorities claim that in this case it is hard to identify whether the person has the nation’s citizenship. However, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco have struck deals with Germany and now accept their nationals without passports.

German officials say that in the nearest months a few hundred thousand people are expected to accept the offer and return home voluntarily.

Faiola assumes: “At the same time, the Germans are trying to reduce the appeal of life here as a migrant. This week, new rules came into effect forcing some migrants under humanitarian protection to wait at least two years before bringing in close family members, even from war-torn countries.

Critics argue that after years of being too lax, German authorities are now overcompensating — pressuring migrants to go home voluntarily with tactics that effectively amount to coercion.”

26-year-old Ahmadshakeb Baloch escaped Afghan 6 years ago because of the Taliban threat; he learned German and became a restaurant cook in Bavaria. However, in 2015, he received word from the government that his application was rejected, and his work visa was revoked. Now he receives 320 euros as a state aid and struggles to survive. His driver’s license and ID were seized, and he received a demand to obtain a new passport from the Afghan Embassy. But Baloch is terrified that if he does, he will be sent to Kabul involuntarily: recently Germany stopped giving deportation dates in advance.

“I wanted a new life, but they are making it so difficult for me here,” Baloch said, fighting back tears. “I sit by the window all day and think and cry and think. I won’t go back.

“I will die in Germany.”

 

By Stefan Paraber for GIA.

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