Migration policy in the Bundestag: Naturalization plans lead to sharp exchanges

Migration policy in the Bundestag
Naturalization plans lead to heated exchanges

The FDP and the Greens in particular are far apart when it comes to some of the traffic light projects on migration policy. This is shown by the heated debate about reforming citizenship law in the Bundestag. The end result could be a compromise that only one party agrees with.

During discussions about accelerated naturalization and the removal of obstacles to deportation, it became clear that the dividing line in migration policy does not always lie between the coalition and the opposition. While at the first reading in the plenary session of the Bundestag there was at least praise from the Union for the extended exit detention and support from the Left for easier naturalization, the Green politician Filiz Polat reported a need for improvement in both proposed laws.

With its reform of nationality law, the federal government wants to make Germany more attractive for skilled workers and recognize the lifetime achievements of the so-called guest worker generation. It’s about showing that Germany is a liberal democracy and not a “blood and soil community,” said Federal Justice Minister Marco Buschmann of the FDP. In the future, immigrants should be able to become citizens after just five years of residence in Germany. So far they have to live in the country for at least eight years. If you perform well at school or at work, have good language skills or do voluntary work, naturalization should be possible after just three years.

Anyone who wants a German passport should no longer have to give up their old one. This already applies to EU citizens and some special cases, but not to people from Turkey, for example. The planned reform will enable more people to become at home in Germany without having to break off their roots, said SPD parliamentary group vice-president Dirk Wiese.

“Don’t be fooled”

Polat, visibly moved, remembered Mevlüde Genc. The Turkish-born woman, who lost two daughters, two granddaughters and a niece in an arson attack on her house in Solingen by neo-Nazis in 1993, became German in 1995. Written German exams and a naturalization test should be dispensed with for older people who came to the country as workers through state recruitment agreements. You just have to prove that you can communicate in German in everyday life without any significant problems. The requirement to pay completely for one’s own living expenses should not apply to these people. Women in this group in particular often only receive a small pension due to long-term employment in the low-wage sector. Polat said that other people “who have become unemployed through no fault of their own” should also be taken into account in further consultations.

The FDP has emphasized several times in the past few days that it is against further exceptions for people who cannot support themselves. The Union parliamentary group’s domestic policy spokesman, Alexander Throm from the CDU, spoke of a “citizenship devaluation law”. For foreign skilled workers, rapid naturalization is not essential. Faster visa procedures, rapid family reunification and support in finding accommodation are more important. MPs from the traffic light coalition emphasized that the draft provides regulations to prevent racists and anti-Semites from becoming naturalized.

Gökay Akbulut from the Left said: “I find such tests of attitude unhelpful.” A clear stance against anti-Semitism and racism is important, but this should apply equally to Germans and non-Germans. In general, from her group’s point of view, it is good “that citizenship law should finally be reformed.” Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser promoted the planned simplifications in deportation procedures. The SPD politician said that anyone who is legally obliged to leave the country must also leave Germany. She said: “The rule of law must not allow itself to be fooled.”

Deport smugglers more quickly

Polat criticized the draft for a “repatriation improvement law” which partly envisages measures that represent an “interference with elementary fundamental rights”. Your group therefore wants to examine carefully whether this is justified. The FDP domestic politician Stephan Thomae, however, said that this was a reform with a sense of proportion. The project is intended to ensure that deportations no longer fail so often at the last moment, for example because those affected cannot be found.

The maximum duration of immigration detention is to be extended from the current 10 to 28 days. Furthermore, expanded powers of authorities are envisaged, for example, in shared accommodation, representatives of authorities should also be allowed to enter rooms other than the room of the person being deported. Smugglers should also be able to be expelled more quickly. It is to be welcomed that the traffic light is now making initial efforts to remove obstacles to deportation, said CDU domestic politician Christoph de Vries. But these are not sufficient. Even more important would be to regain control over who enters the country.

In 2021 and 2022 there were around 12,000 deportations per year. The draft law states that it is assumed that the stricter regulations could mean that around 600 more people who are required to leave the country could be deported each year than before. According to the Federal Ministry of the Interior, 250,749 people required to leave the country were in Germany at the end of October. This included 201,084 people who had a toleration permit, i.e. a temporary suspension of deportation. Reasons for toleration could include illness or a lack of identification documents. The proposed law shows that the coalition of SPD, Greens and FDP has bowed to “social pressure from the right,” criticized left-wing politician Clara Bünger Linke. Bernd Baumann from the AfD said that detention for less than six months “doesn’t do anything”.

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