New German law to speed up the return of irregular migrants

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In Germany, a new piece of legislation aimed at speeding up the process of returning migrants has been introduced, marking an inflexion in the country's immigration policy. The measure, unveiled by Interior Minister Nancy Faeser, includes over 40 provisions designed to solve immigration-related problems. Among the most important points is the extension of the maximum period of detention before deportation, from ten to twenty-eight days, with the aim of overcoming the obstacles encountered in the final stages of the deportation procedure.

The general context of this legislation and its rationale

Faced with a growing influx of migrants and asylum seekers, Germany has long struggled to strike a balance between welcoming people seeking protection and the need to maintain public order and security. In recent years, the country has seen increasing numbers of people enter irregularly, with over 21,360 unauthorized arrivals reported in September 2023. This situation has raised concerns about the country's ability to manage these migratory flows and effectively integrate migrants into society.

Increase in irregular entries and measures taken

During September 2023, Germany saw a significant rise in irregular entries to its territory, with over 21,366 individuals arriving without authorization, the highest number recorded since February 2016. This upward trend, observed over the past seven months, has given rise to growing concern. Between January and September, 92,119 irregular entries were recorded, raising fears that the total for the year could exceed 2016's 112,000 cases. In response, the German government, led by Chancellor Olaf Scholz, has agreed a series of measures to streamline the repatriation process for certain migrants who have entered the country irregularly.

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Tighter border controls and the fight against human trafficking

Faced with this situation, Germany has also stepped up its border controls with the Czech Republic and Poland, focusing on "smuggling routes". As Minister Faeser explained, the aim of these controls is to put pressure on the traffickers and protect the people endangered by these illegal activities. The German Federal Police are now carrying out flexible priority checks on these routes to detect and prevent smuggling activities.

The German authorities are maintaining close cooperation with the Czech Republic and Poland, as well as with the federal states of Saxony and Brandenburg, which have recorded a large number of irregular entries this year. By introducing these controls, the German government aims to prevent traffickers from facilitating irregular entry into the country, while minimizing the impact on people, commuters and trade.

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According to data from the German Federal Police, some 71,000 unauthorized entries were recorded from the beginning of the year to the end of August, with Syria, Afghanistan, Türkiye and Iraq as the main countries of origin. In addition, it has been revealed that a third of third-country nationals entering Germany illegally are victims of trafficking. In the first eight months of 2023 alone, over 1,550 trafficking operations were recorded across the country, involving 1,700 traffickers and over 20,300 trafficked persons.

Main provisions of the new legislation

Legislation recently introduced by the German government represents a major step forward in the management of migration flows, and aims to establish a more structured and efficient framework for expulsion and return processes. The law includes a number of measures designed to streamline and accelerate these procedures.

  1. Extension of the pre-expulsion detention period One of the most significant changes is the extension of the maximum period of detention prior to deportation. Previously limited to ten days, it has now been extended to 28 days. This extension is intended to give the authorities sufficient time to overcome the logistical and administrative obstacles often encountered in the final stages of the deportation process.
  2. Bilateral agreements with countries of origin and transit The German government is planning to conclude agreements with the countries of origin and transit of migrants. These agreements will aim to facilitate the return process, notably by clarifying procedures and ensuring the cooperation of the countries concerned. In return, Germany will offer legal immigration channels, providing a regulated and secure alternative to irregular immigration.
  3. Capacity-building for expulsion authorities The new legislation also provides for a strengthening of the resources available to the authorities responsible for expulsions. This may include additional resources in terms of personnel and training, as well as technological improvements to enhance the efficiency of expulsion procedures.
  4. Specific measures for complex cases The law envisages special provisions for more complex cases, such as migrants without proper identity documents or those who have committed offenses. These measures are designed to simplify procedures while ensuring that the rights of the individuals concerned are respected.
  5. Protecting vulnerable migrants Although the main aim of the legislation is to speed up returns, it also makes provision for the protection of vulnerable groups among migrants, including unaccompanied minors and asylum seekers with special needs.
  6. Monitoring and assessment The legislation includes mechanisms for monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of the measures put in place. This will enable policies and practices to be adjusted according to the results obtained and the challenges encountered.

Social and political implications of new migration legislation

The legislation introduced by German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser is significant not only in terms of migration management, but also for its far-reaching social and political implications in Germany.

  1. Strengthening social acceptance of migration Minister Faeser emphasizes that this legislation is essential to maintain and strengthen the social acceptance of migration in Germany. By clarifying and strengthening the rules governing the right of residence, the government aims to preserve the social balance by ensuring that those who have the right to stay can do so in a legal and secure framework, while those who do not have this right must leave the country.
  2. The principle of legality and community well-being By insisting on compliance with immigration laws, the legislation underlines the importance of the principle of legality for the well-being of the community. This helps to ensure predictability and stability in society, essential elements in maintaining public order and social cohesion.
  3. Germany's historic transformation Minister Faeser spoke of Germany's historic transformation from a country scarred by global conflict to a modern, open nation offering protection and asylum. This evolution reflects a profound change in Germany's national identity and position on the international stage, particularly in terms of human rights and the acceptance of refugees.
  4. Balancing safety and humanity The legislation seeks to strike a balance between national security and respect for human dignity. By focusing on safe and orderly returns, the government seeks to protect both the interests of the nation and the rights of migrants, particularly those fleeing persecution and conflict.
  5. Impact on the German political landscape This legislation could also have a significant impact on Germany's political landscape. By addressing the concerns of various segments of the population regarding immigration, the government is seeking to consolidate a social consensus and avoid polarization on this sensitive issue.
  6. Germany's role in European migration policy By adopting this legislation, Germany positions itself as a major player in the definition of migration policies at European level. This could influence debates on the management of immigration and the sharing of responsibilities between EU member states.

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