Germany has been facing a steady idiosyncrasy between theory and practice of deportations. In 2018 every second deportation failed, leading to only 26.000 enforced deportations for the whole year.
This trend has continued into 2019. From January till June, the Police were once again unable to execute numerous deportations. In nearly 16.000 cases, the repatriation failed. The reasons remain the same: deportees feel suddenly “sick” or simply disappear.
Meanwhile, in January 2019 alone, more than 17.000 asylum applications were made, according to the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (“Bamf”). Needless to say: these figures do not increase faith in the German government nor the current migration system.
It is only the tip of the iceberg, however. Currently, 246.737 individuals are obliged to leave the country. Yet, the majority, about 191.117 possess the status of being “tolerated”. Those tolerated individuals receive basic security, are allowed to perform labour under particular circumstances or may start training under certain conditions.
Toleration status is generally granted for different reasons, e.g. when young people are already well integrated. However, many individuals who are tolerated receive status mainly due to lack of papers. As of February 2019, more than 76.000 foreigners had been tolerated because papers were missing and identities were unexplained, according to the Federal Government. As a result, the likely countries of origin refuse to take those individuals back.
Legally, the status of toleration is an official suspension of an obligation to leave. The ambivalence is obvious, as the majority of those who are due to leave Germany possess legal protection against it.
The modus operandi here: whoever enters Germany might as well stay for good. On a more serious note, Germany’s immigration system’s status quo does not help those in dire need, but those who manage to make their way onto German soil.
This mechanism is difficult to endure, particularly for the rule of law. The latter continues to lose its purpose if laws cannot be enforced. But it also raises the question of why the “Bamf” conducts complex test procedures for each asylum seeker, if the result, in the end, remains without any consequences.
In April, Minister of the Interior Seehofer proposed an “Orderly Return Law”. Individuals who deceive their identity or destroys their passport would automatically lose the status of being tolerated. Unsurprisingly, Seehofer’s plan was seen as too harsh and, therefore, unacceptable for the SPD.
In June, the grand coalition passed eagerly anticipated migration laws to address the issues that had been so obvious. To prevent deportation candidates from disappearing, they can now be placed in detention centres. Asylum seekers from safe countries as well as the so-called participation and identity deniers are to be held in so-called anchor centres. Moreover, for the first time, authorities have been granted the right to enter properties in search of deportees.
The law also provides the new status of “toleration for individuals with unexplained identity”. These are the aforementioned individuals who attempt to prevent deportation via deception of the authorities. The ground-breaking change? Residence restrictions, a work ban and fines for the perpetrators.
While the new migration law was passed to make amends for disastrous migration policy and a deportation success rate of about 50 per cent, the actual issue of toleration has not been addressed seriously. Mainly as there’re no serious penalties for the deception of identities and due to a complete disregard of countries of origin to cooperative sufficiently and return their citizen. A crucial element of the new law needed to be the application of pressure onto those countries, based on putting into question the continuation of development aid. It is an approach other European countries have been conducting for years.
And so, the government’s failure to address these issues with much-needed determination will likely results in similar deportation “success rates” at the end of the year. Most importantly, however, Germans will continue to lose faith in the rule of law with their state being helpless in a self-made conundrum.