Statement from the Campaign A Right to Stay for All Instead of A “Chance” Trap
Editor’s note: In view of the current developments in the legislative process, this text was updated on December 16th, 2022.
The federal government plans to introduce a total of four legislative packages before the end of 2023 to realize the promises regarding residency and asylum law that were made in the coalition contract of the SPD, BÜNDNIS 90/DIE GRÜNEN and FDP. On December 2nd, 2022, the first of these so-called migration packages was passed in the Bundestag(federal parliament). On December 16th, 2022 it passed the Bundesrat (Federal Council) and the changes in the law are expected to come into force on January 1st, 2023.
The first ‘migration package’ contains massive deprivation of rights of those seeking protection through the ‚Gesetz zur Beschleunigung der Asylgerichtsverfahren und Asylverfahren‘ and the extension of detention for deportation. And it contains also small improvements, e.g. B. access to ‘Integrationskurse’ for all asylum seekers. (Overview of all changes in the right of residence in German)
It also contains the “Chancen-Aufenthaltsrecht”. We criticize this law because many refugees will – just like before – have no chance of gaining a right to stay.
Even the smallest of criminal offenses, which would not even appear on a police record for other citizens, are sufficient for an exclusion from the planned “Chancenaufenthaltsrecht” (“chance residency”). Those who are accused by the authorities of deliberately failing to obtain documents to “clarify their identity” are also excluded from the “chance residency”.
The improvements for adolescents and young adults likewise remain too small: children up to the age of 14 and their families continue to be excluded across the board from right-to-stay regulations. They must continue to live with legal obstacles to participation and the fear of deportation. The high requirements for “success at school”, which hardly take into account the unique situation of young refugees, have also been retained from previous right-to-stay regulations.
Real opportunities look different. That is why we demand a REAL “CHANCE” RIGHT TO REMAIN FOR ALL from the legislators, and we demand it NOW!
Real opportunities do not fit well with discriminatory grounds for exclusion.
The criteria for exclusion in the planned law subject those seeking protection to arbitrary administrative discretion: In some places, asylum seekers are already considered criminals just for violating the passport requirement – in other places, entering without a passport is less criminalized.
The linking of criminal law with the right to remain is fundamentally discriminatory and violates the principles of the rule of law. While the criminal system provides German citizens with the opportunity to make a new start, for foreigners the most minor crimes, regardless of whether they are still included in someone’s criminal record, are never erased from the foreigner’s record and can have lifelong consequences in terms of immigration law. Thus, migrants and asylum seekers are always punished and controlled multiple times over.
- Criminal law and immigration law must be fundamentally separated and the criminalization of migration must be abolished. The surveillance of migrants (Article 87 of the Residence Act) must also be abolished.
Real opportunities must not depend on passports or other documents.
The immigration authorities often deal arbitrarily with the question of whether someone has sufficiently clarified their identity. They often assume that asylum seekers conceal their identity out of fear of deportation, although many simply cannot obtain documents that prove their identity.
German residence law essentially holds that papers are more important than people. With this principle, the authorities block family reunification, prevent marriages and partnerships, delay resettlement from Afghanistan, and separate families through deportations. This obligation to submit documents that meet the high standards of the German authorities deprives many people of their opportunities in life. In many cases, it is also affected persons’ families, waiting for their support, who are affected.
- Document requirements must be adapted to the realities of flight.
Real opportunities are not a trap.
According to the draft law, all protection seekers who fail to meet all requirements for a residence permit within 18 months will find themselves at greater risk of deportation than before. This is because they will now have given the immigration authorities documents to “clarify their identity” that can now be used for their deportation.
- Deportations are human rights violations and must be abolished.
Real opportunities must be practicable.
Life with a Duldung implies years of exclusion, often forced inactivity, and a lack of perspective. This leaves behind psychological traces. How are persons who have lived for years with a Duldung now supposed to find a job and learn German within 18 months?
- A “chance right to stay ” should be granted for three years, in order to provide enough time to develop new perspectives.
- In addition, all persons with a Duldung must be comprehensively informed by the authorities about their options and state-funded independent counseling should be offered nationwide.
- Fundamentally, right-to-stay regulations must move away from the notion of “integration.” It is too narrow for an inclusive and pluralistic society. The ways to arrive, engage, and contribute in this society are as diverse as the people who live here. The possibility of participation and co-determination in a society must not be made dependent on achievement The separation of migrants according to their migratory “purpose” (Aufenthaltszweck) should be abolished. All residence permits should be accessible to everyone.
Real opportunities enable participation instead of preventing it.
While the chance to gain a secure residence depends on whether people find work or vocational training, many people living with a Duldung are prohibited from doing precisely that in Germany. In the coalition agreement, the federal government promised to eliminate bans on working – but there is nothing about this in the current draft law. Thus, the laws make participation in society and so-called “integration” impossible.
- We demand work permits for all.
Real opportunities must also apply to families.
Years of waiting for appointments at the German embassies and for the processing of visa applications for family reunification, the requirement of an A1 language test, demands for documents that are difficult or impossible to obtain… The German embassies block family reunification, even for those who theoretically have a legal entitlement to it.
- The barrier of the A1 exam abroad must finally be abolished. We also need unbureaucratic and fast online visa procedures, recognition of alternative proof of family unity, and a concept of family that goes beyond the nuclear family.
Real opportunities are unconditional.
We demand a “chance residency” for all those who already live in Germany, including those who went into hiding years ago out of fear of deportation or who are living without papers for other reasons, regardless of the cut-off date. Because they all live and work in Germany and living without papers puts them at risk.
Allmende e.V., Bantabaa e.V., Barnim für Alle, Berliner Gruppe Sea-Eye e.V. , BumF – Bundesfachverband unbegleitete minderjährige Flüchtlinge e.V., Die Urbane. Eine HipHop Partei, Ende Gelände Berlin, Flüchtlingsrat Brandenburg, Frauenkreise Berlin, Initiative ZusammenLeben e.V., Jugendliche ohne Grenzen, Kontakt- und Beratungsstelle für Flüchtlinge und Migrant_innen e.V., Migrationsrat Berlin, No Border Assembly, Refugees with Attitudes, Seebrücke, Space2groW, trixiewiz e.V., Wearebornfree! Empowerment Radio (We!R), We’ll Come United Berlin-Brandenburg, Women in Exile & Friends.
About us, the campaign network
We are a newly founded network of political initiatives, groups, organizations,associations and individuals who got to know each other in anti-racist actions in Berlin and Brandenburg.
We are responding to the federal government’s concept of a “Chance Residency” and seek to inform legislators and the public about what we understand by real chances from the perspective of those affected, specialized organizations, and solidarity-based political initiatives. In addition, we want to critically comment on other upcoming migration packages of the federal government. We will continue to develop our positions and demands together in the network and will respond to the respective draft laws.