Posts Tagged ‘deportations’

Ocasio-Cortez was the only Dem to vote ‘no’ on bill to reopen the government

January 24, 2019

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was the lone House Democrat Wednesday to vote against leadership-backed bills to reopen the government because she opposes money for Immigration and Customs Enforcement or additional border security measures.

“We were having conversations with our community after we voted for DHS [Department of Homeland Security] funding the first time,” Ocasio-Cortez told The Post after House votes. “We’re hearing back a lot from our local community and they’re uncomfortable with any vote on funding for ICE.”

Her Queens and Bronx district has a significant immigrant and Latino population and her constituents are already feeling pressure from ICE deportations.

While she voted in favor of DHS funding in the past to reopen the government, after hearing from her voters, now she’s “a solid no for funding ICE at all,” spokesman Corbin Trent added.

The first House-passed measure authorized funding to agencies at current levels through Feb. 28 and no extra money for President Trump’s border wall. It passed 229-184. Ocasio-Cortez joined with 183 Republicans in voting “no.”

Ocasio-Cortez’s second “no” vote was on a larger appropriations package that funded agencies through the end of the fiscal year, but not the DHS.

The bill passed 234-180 without Ocasio-Cortez’s support because it included $1.6 billion for border security-related measures like more immigration judges, investments in ports of entry and assistance for Central America.

The second bill package got 10 GOP yes votes including New York Reps. Elise Stefanik and John Katko.

The record-breaking government shutdown reached Day 33 on Wednesday. Federal workers are expected to miss their second paycheck by Friday.


Rome warns Germany not to deport migrants back to Italy

October 7, 2018

Italy has warned Germany not to deport migrants back to Italy. Reports say the German state of Bavaria is preparing to send asylum-seekers back to Italy, insisting that the cases must be processed at the point of entry.

Migrants in Germany (Getty Images/AFP/C. Stache)

German news agency DPA has learnt that authorities in the southern German state of Bavaria were planning to start deporting large groups of migrants back to Italy.

According to the European Union’s Dublin Regulation, the cases of asylum-seekers must be processed at their point of entry into the 28-nation bloc. As a German border state, Bavaria is a point of entry into Germany from other European nations.

DPA said it was unclear whether German authorities in Bavaria would go ahead with deportations amid rising tensions with Rome over the migrant issue. The flights would normally have to be accompanied by federal police officers, and would thus have to be coordinated with Berlin.

Hard-line stance on immigration

The regional Bavarian government, supported by federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, has taken a hard-line stance on immigration, insisting that migrants have to be sent back to their point of entry into the EU. Seehofer caused a major row in Germany’s governing grand coalition, even drawing criticism from within the conservative alliance, including from Chancellor Angela Merkel.

On Twitter, Italy’s populist, far-right, Interior Minister Matteo Salvini warned Berlin and Brussels on Sunday that “unauthorized charter flights” would not be allowed into the country.

“We will close the airports, as we have already closed the ports,” Salvini added.

Matteo Salvini


Se qualcuno, a Berlino o a Bruxelles, pensa di scaricare in Italia decine di immigrati con dei voli charter non autorizzati, sappia che non c’è e non ci sarà nessun aereoporto disponibile.
Chiudiamo gli aeroporti come abbiamo chiuso porti. 

Migranti dalla Germania, arriva lo stop di Salvini: «Chiudiamo gli aeroporti»

Il ministro replica alla proposta tedesca- Primo volo charter: la Germania riporta 40 profughi a Roma di F.Caccia

Read more: How do deportations work in Germany?

Infografik Comparison of migrant landings in Italy EN

German deportations

According to DPA, the first migrant flight from Munich to Italy, carrying around 40 asylum-seekers, could depart as early as Monday, with the second flight planned for October 17. Italian daily Corriere della Sera also reported that Bavaria was planning the flights.

Several of these migrants are originally from Nigeria, the news agency said.

It was unclear whether the authorities in Bavaria have informed the Italian government about their reported plans. DPA said that Bavarian officials neither denied nor confirmed the reports.

In the first half of this year, Germany as a whole returned at least 1,692 migrants to Italy.

According to Italian newspaper, La Repubblica, EU countries send back about 10 migrants per week to Rome, Milan or Turin. These migrants are then taken to reception centers.

Read more: UN calls for EU and Italy to end migrant standoff

Dublin Regulation under threat?

Italy’s new populist government demands that other member states take the migrants in, going as far as threatening to withhold EU payments if assistance is not given.

In August, Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio said the EU had “decided to turn its back on Italy.”

Read more: EU Mediterranean migrant mission at risk of collapse

Hundreds of thousands of asylum-seekers have arrived in Italy since 2013, fleeing war, persecution and poverty in the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

“Last year in the period up to August, 100,000 migrants arrived and the European Union did little or nothing. This year we had fewer than 20,000 landings, and the European Union is still doing little or nothing. So I am still willing to debate, but more recently, we’ve also been talking with some non-European Union countries, such as Albania, Serbia and Montenegro,” Italy’s Interior Minister Salvini told DW in an interview last month.

The EU’s Dublin Regulation states that people must seek asylum in their country of arrival, but Italy’s new government has increasingly barred boats from docking at its ports.

Read more: Germany ready to sign migrant return deal with Italy

Infografik Fluchtrouten EU ENG

Germany’s new immigration laws open door for skilled labor

October 3, 2018

A shortage of qualified workers is good incentive for change. Germany’s coalition government has reached a deal on several key immigration issues, including making it easier for non-EU citizens to work in the country.

A trainee working with hand tools (picture-alliance/dpa/S. Hoppe)

The good news first: Germany’s governing coalition of conservatives and center-left Social Democrats (SPD) is indeed capable of governing. Until late Monday night, they were working to find a compromise on two central issues: the diesel debate and immigration.

There are two important questions regarding immigration: How to reduce the shortage of skilled labor in Germany through targeted immigration from non-EU countries? And what are the prospects of remaining in Germany for those who have had their asylum applications rejected but have in the meantime found work and integrated into society?

The coalition has agreed on the following key points:

Prospects for rejected asylum-seekers

Germany wants to use the planned law to recruit qualified, skilled labor from abroad. The law is supposed to make it easier for them to come to Germany. Of course, training and education play an important role. For those with university degrees, there has long been the possibility to get a so-called blue card. But now, others could be afforded a similar privilege. Among them are refugees whose asylum applications have been rejected, but who, for other reasons, cannot return to their home country.

Read moreGermans upbeat about immigration, study finds

According to the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees, at the end of June 2018, more than 230,000 people who were technically required to leave Germany were living in the country. Of these, just under 174,000 were granted exemptions from deportation. For them, the law will offer the opportunity to gain a better residency permit by securing a permanent job.

No ‘Lane Change’

Nevertheless, Monday night’s agreement states: “We are adhering to the principle of separation between asylum and labor migration.” This indicates that the SPD was not able to push through the entirety of the “lane change” they intended. But now, the coalition’s compromise provides for a way to accommodate refugees who were not granted asylum, but cannot be deported to their home country and have also integrated well into German society.

Read more: Finding skilled labor in Germany: ‘It’s never been so hard’

For such cases, according to Minister for Social Affairs Hubertus Heil of the SPD, “clear criteria for a reliable status regarding [such] refugees” should be included in laws regarding residency permits. However, what these might be is yet to be seen. Heil described the regulation as “pragmatic and realistic.” There can’t be a situation where “the wrong” asylum seekers are sent back to their home countries.

Fewer Restrictions

Thus far, skilled workers and academics with qualified training and education were only really able to work in Germany if the Federal Employment Agency had identified a market need. That is changing now; the restrictions are being eliminated. Anyone who has completed a qualified vocational training or degree course, and has signed an employment contract is to be allowed to fill the position. Previously, there was a requirement to check whether or not a citizen might have been able to take the job before approval could be given. This will be done away with. However, the government is reserving the right to quickly reintroduce the procedure to protect local workers.

Ministers Seehofer, Altmaier and Heil (picture-alliance/dpa/M. Kappeler)It wasn’t easy, but Heil (left) was able to reach an agreement with his conservative colleagues

Easier travel entry to search for work

In the future, those interested in working in Germany will have the opportunity to come to the country for up to six months to look for a job. The prerequisite is qualified education or training. Social benefits will not be accessible during that period.

Read moreHow do deportations work in Germany?

“We are adhering to the requirement of proof of a secured income before entering the country,” states the coalition’s agreement. In a previous draft, incoming workers would have been allowed to take on work below their qualification level to secure an income during their job search. This was later removed.

‘We need smart people’

Is the new agreement a half-baked compromise or a model for future policy? The reactions on Tuesday ran the gamut. Among them, representatives of the business community expressed positive reactions, saying the points in the agreement were important for maintaining Germany’s economic competitiveness. “To do so, we are dependent on qualified workers from abroad,” said the chief executive of the Confederation of German Employers’ Associations, Steffen Kampeter.

The digital association Bitcom stated clearly: “We need the brightest minds in the world.”

Read moreWomen refugees face difficult path to integration in Germany

German Trade Union Confederation board member Annelie Buntenbach, on the other hand, called for more extensive and longer-term entry requirements.

For the opposition in Germany’s parliament, the agreement does not go far enough. “Instead of simplification and easing for migrants,” the coalition’s agreement just creates “more bureaucracy and opaque regulations,” said Green party migration expert Filiz Polat. Katja Suding of the business-friendly Free Democratic Party, meanwhile, said it was “incomprehensible” why “a 23-year-old with a contract for training at a retirement home should be deported to Afghanistan.”

Evidence of Abuse, Deaths in Xinjiang Camps Emerges

August 23, 2018

An investigative report by Eva Dou, Jeremy Page, and Josh Chin of the Wall Street Journal has found evidence that extralegal political re-education camps in  have expanded rapidly in recent months. Meanwhile, detainees have given accounts of abuse while family members have reported deaths of their loved ones in the camps.

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Experts have estimated that over a million people, from the Uyghur minority as well as other Muslim ethnic groups in China, have been held in camps where they are reportedly indoctrinated to show loyalty to the Communist Party and to disavow any religious beliefs. From the WSJ report:

Satellite images reviewed by The Wall Street Journal and a specialist in photo analysis show that camps have been growing. Construction work has been carried out on some within the past two weeks, including at one near the western city of Kashgar that has doubled in size since Journal reporters visited in November.

The full extent of the internment program was long obscured because many Uighurs feared speaking out. Now more are recounting experiences, including six former inmates interviewed by the Journal who described how they or other detainees had been bound to chairs and deprived of adequate food.

“They would also tell us about religion, saying there is no such thing as religion, why do you believe in religion, there is no God,” said Ablikim, a 22-year-old Uighur former inmate who asked to be identified only by his first name.

The Journal also spoke to three dozen relatives of detainees, five of whom reported that family members had died in camps or soon after their release. Many said they had struggled to determine where their relatives were being held and the state of their health. [Source]

In a Twitter thread, Chin explains how he and his colleagues reported on the camps despite numerous obstacles.

An article by Akbar Shahid Ahmed in the Huffington Post looks at the increased willingness by exiled Uyghurs and others to speak up about the existence of the camps and how they get the word out despite tight restrictions on communicating with people in Xinjiang.

The Chinese government has denied any abuse or persecution has taken place in the camps, calling them “vocation centers.” In a blog post, Jeremy Daum of China Law Translate explores the legality of such centers, which the government claims are being used as education centers for criminals guilty of minor crimes. But Daum argues that there is no clear legal basis for holding such people longer than 15 days and without a trial:

As discussed above, the law is quite direct in saying when  is called for, and there is no mention of detention in the discussion of corrective mentoring for minor offenses. Even for more serious offenders, who were given court ordered criminal punishments, education is mentioned only as something to be carried out during their sentence, not as additional grounds for detention. The Xinjiang Regulation on De-extremification similarly use ‘education’ as the lowest form of punishment, for situations not even meriting administrative punishments, but it would defy logic to read this as authorizing longer detention than the 15 days maximum authorized for the more serious violations.[vi]

The exception to this rule is ‘educational placement’ [安置教育]. [vii] Educational placement is one of the Counter-terrorism Law’s most troubling features, and does provide for potentially indefinite detention. Its application is limited, however, to those who are sentenced by a court to a prison term for a terrorism crime, have served that sentence, and the court has then found that they are still too dangerous to release. It is possible that some of the new prison-like educational centers are intended for those in educational-placement, but their size would then suggest that such placements were the norm following criminal sentences. [Source]

In a post for the CESS Blog, Rachel Harris of SOAS, University of London, puts the existence of re-education camps in the context of Beijing’s broader crackdown on religious expression in Xinjiang and efforts to forcibly assimilate Uyghur culture and Muslim religious practices into mainstream Han society:

Testimonies hint at the psychological trauma inflicted on detainees. Reports also attest to the trauma suffered by the wider Uyghur population, both within Xinjiang and in the diaspora. We know that  within Xinjiang are struggling to maintain daily life with over 10% of the workforce in detention. Many children have been sent to state orphanages because both their parents have been detained.  living outside Xinjiang are suffering from crippling anxiety and guilt: they risk detention for their relatives if they try to contact them, and they fear worse consequences for their detained relatives if they speak out.

Individuals known to have been detained

  • Professional football player Erfan Hezim detained in 2017
  • Prominent religious scholar Muhammad Salih Hajim, 82, died in custody, January 2018
  • Xinjiang University President Tashpolat Teyip detained in 2017, accused as a “two-faced” official, insufficiently loyal to the state
  • Xinjiang University Professor Rahile Dawut detained in 2017, possibly in connection with her ethnographic research on Uyghur religious culture
  • Uyghur writer and Xinjiang Normal University Professor Abduqadir Jalaleddin, detained in January 2018
  • Elenur Eqilahun, detained in 2017, possibly for receiving calls from her daughter who is studying abroad
  • Pop star Ablajan Ayup, detained in February 2018, possibly for singing about Uyghur language education
  • Halmurat Ghopur, Vice Provost of Xinjiang Medical Institute, detained in 2017for exhibiting “nationalistic tendencies.”

This short list of prominent Uyghur intellectuals, artists and athletes who we know have been detained is only the tip of the iceberg, but it demonstrates that the scope of the campaign has gone well beyond the religious sphere. Current policies seek to quarantine Uyghurs from any foreign contacts, they target individuals who have promoted Uyghur language or culture, and people who resist, or are insufficiently enthusiastic about, the campaign. It suggests that the anti-“terror” campaign is being used as part of a wider set of policies – including the so-called “bilingual education” policy which has banned the use of Uyghur language in schools and higher education – which are designed to break down ethnic identity and affiliation, and absorb minority nationalities into the wider Chinese nation (zhonghua minzu).

It also suggests that Turkic-speaking Muslim minority peoples are now collectively regarded as a threat to China’s national security. As one official from Kashgar reportedlysaid at a public meeting, “you can’t uproot all the weeds hidden among the crops in the field one by one – you need to spray chemicals to kill them all; re-educating these people is like spraying chemicals on the crops …  that is why it is a general re-education, not limited to a few people.” [Source]

Among the Uyghur intellectuals who have reportedly been detained is Professor Rahile Dawut, a scholar of Uyghur religious and cultural traditions who went missing last December after telling friends she was planning to travel to Beijing from Urumqi, where she taught. Chris Buckley and Austin Ramzy report for The New York Times:

But until recently, Professor Dawut’s work was welcomed by Chinese bureaucrats, as evidenced by grants and support she received from the Ministry of Culture. She had earned an international reputation as an expert on Uighur shrines, folklore, music and crafts neglected by previous generations of scholars.

“I was deeply drawn to this vivid, lively folk culture and customs, so different from the accounts in textbooks,” she said in an interview with a Chinese art newspaper in 2011. “Above all, we’re preserving and documenting this folk cultural heritage not so that it can lie in archives or serve as museum exhibits, but so it can be returned to the people.”

While Chinese policymakers worried that Uighurs were increasingly drawn to radical forms of Islam from the Middle East, Professor Dawut’s work portrayed Uighur heritage as more diverse and tolerant, shaped by Sufi spiritual traditions anathema to modern-day extremists. In 2014, she told The New York Times that she worried about Uighur women drawn to conservative Islam.

[…] “The Chinese government, after arresting Uighur government officials, Uighur rich people, they’ve begun to arrest Uighur intellectuals,” Tahir Imin, a former student of Professor Dawut, said from Washington, where he lives. “Right now I can tell you more than 20 names, all prominent Uighur intellectuals.” [Source]

Nick Holdstock, who knows Rahile Dawut, wrote about her disappearance for the London Review of Books, concluding, “Her disappearance is part of a strategy, long in gestation, to eradicate all forms of dissent in Xinjiang by either brainwashing or intimidation.” Others who have reportedly been detained include philanthropist Ablimit Hoshur Halis Haji, who had set up an education fund to help elite Uyghur students study abroad. In a 2015 interview with the New York Review of Books after Uyghur scholar Ilham Tohti was sentenced to life imprisonment for “separatism,” writer Wang Lixiong explained why he thought Chinese authorities were targeting moderate Uyghurs like him, who did not advocate independence or engage in terrorist acts:

We all thought he wouldn’t be in trouble. But the only conclusion is dark: it’s that they don’t want moderate Uighurs. Because if you have moderate Uighurs, then why aren’t you talking to them? So they wanted to get rid of him and then you can say to the West that there are no moderates and we’re fighting terrorists. [Source]

While many of those detained have ties to Kazakhstan and other Central Asian countries bordering China, neighboring governments have done little to speak out against the camps and restrictive policies in Xinjiang. Gene A. Bunin reports for Foreign Policy:

Though people in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Pakistan all demand the reunification of their families and the safety of relatives in Xinjiang, their governments, despite not openly supporting China’s internal policies, still find themselves numb before an overwhelmingly powerful neighbor.

The numbness is understandable— too much of these countries’ future development depends on China. Kazakhstan, owing to its geographical location, seeks to benefit from being a crucial partner on the Belt and Road Initiative’s New Eurasian Land Bridge, a series of rail links set to traverse Xinjiang and Kazakhstan, cross through Russia, and terminate in Europe. The analogue for Pakistan is the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, a $62 billion infrastructure project that is predicted to create hundreds of thousands of jobs while speeding up the country’s growth. For Kyrgyzstan, it’s less about ambitious projects and more about loans and investment—in addition to owning oil refineries, plants, and mines in the country, China also owns about half of its debt. Dependent on remittances and unable to generate enough income for investment, Kyrgyzstan is forced to borrow if it wants to maintain its growth.

However, despite cooperation from both governments and China-facing entrepreneurs in these Muslim-majority countries, the fact that the Chinese government is keeping as many as a million of its own  in concentration camps has not made for smooth partnerships. Of the three countries, Kazakhstan is the one where things have been the rockiest by far, as thousands of people—many of them Chinese “Oralman,” or ethnic  from China—have seen their relatives in Xinjiang detained over the past year and a half, in many cases for such simple “transgressions” as keeping in touch with them via WhatsApp, a chat client that is now banned in China. [Source]

Image result for LeBron James, photos

Meanwhile, the National Basketball Association has been operating a training camp in Urumqi, capital of the Xinjiang region, since 2016. In Slate, Isaac Stone Fish argues that the NBA’s presence helps “whitewash a network of concentration camps,” and goes against league members’ stated support for racial justice in the U.S.:

NBA stars like LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony have condemned police violence and racism in the United States, while players and executives have protested the Trump administration’s separation of immigrant children from their parents. According to his LinkedIn page, the NBA executive George Land oversees the Xinjiang training center. On Twitter, Land’s most recent activity is a retweet of the MSNBC host Chris Hayes condemning the U.S. separation of thousands of mothers from their children. But what about Xinjiang? Thousands of Uighur children are reportedly languishing in orphanages, awaiting their parents’ release from the concentration camps. The NBA didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment for this story. [Source]


Germany halts Uighur deportations to China

August 23, 2018

The German government has suspended deportations of Uighurs to China until further notice, according to a media report. The Muslim minority faces discrimination and persecution in the northwestern Xinjiang region.

A woman and child walk in front of a line of police

Uighurs and members of other Muslim minorities will no longer be deported from Germany to China, the Süddeutscher Zeitung reported on Thursday citing an Interior Ministry response to a Green party information request.

The ministry said expulsions had been put on hold because the country analysis department of the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees had only recently compiled relevant country information concerning the plight of the Uighurs.

Read moreHow do deportations work in Germany?

Persecuted ethnic group

Uighur Muslims are a minority in the autonomous Xinjiang region in China’s northwest. They have historically been targets of discrimination and a raft of restrictions imposed on them by the government in Beijing. Earlier this month, a United Nations human rights committee raised serious concerns about the treatment of Uighurs in China, saying they were seen as “enemies of the state,” with hundreds of thousands being kept in facilities resembling secret internment camps.

China claims Xinjiang faces threats from Islamist extremists  seeking to carry out attacks and foment unrest between the Uighur minority and the Han majority. Hundreds of people have died in violence in the restive territory in recent years.

Read moreGermany admits to 5 illegal deportations

In April, authorities in the German state of Bavaria mistakenly deported a Uighur asylum-seeker to China due to an administrative error. According to the German dpa news agency, Berlin is trying to bring the 23-year-old back, but his whereabouts are unknown.

nm/sms (Reuters, AFP, dpa)


Image may contain: 2 people, people standing and outdoor

Ethnic Uighur children in the old town of Kashgar, in the far western Xinjiang province © Getty

  (Academic Freedom Chinese Style)

Chinese paramilitary policemen stand guard

Chinese paramilitary policemen stand guard on a street in Kashgar, Xinjiang, in 2014.

Image result for China’s ethnic Kazakhs, photos




Bavaria unveils its own Center for Asylum and Deportation — Will Migration End The EU?

July 28, 2018

Merkel: “How we deal with the migration issue will determine whether Europe will last”

Bavarian Premier Markus Söder has unveiled the German state’s very own asylum center. Söder said the center will boost the chances of asylum for those willing to integrate, but also allow for faster deportations.

Deutschland Gründung des Landesamtes für Asyl und Rückführungen (picture-alliance/dpa/M. Balk)

The Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU) announced it will take a carrot-and-stick approach to migration as it unveiled its new Center for Asylum and Repatriation on Friday in the town of Manching.

Bavarian Premier Markus Söder said the new center would help the German state strike a “better balance” when it comes to integrating migrants.

On the one hand, the new center would make it more likely for asylum-seekers to find work or enroll in training schemes “if they make the effort to integrate,” Söder said.

However, the Bavarian regional government also intends to impose a more hard-line approach to deportations. A quick termination of the residency would be the “top priority” for those thought to pose a risk, the Bavarian premier said.  Any migrant found guilty of committing violent acts and crimes would be returned to his or her home country as quickly as possible, according the conservative CSU.

Söder said the center’s new guidelines were symbolic of the CSU’s “humane and orderly” approach to migration.

Those remarks were echoed by Bavaria’s Interior Minister Joachim Hermann, who said the southern German state would take “visibly swift action” against delinquent asylum seekers in order to guarantee the rule of law.

The CSU also announced on Friday that it intends to raise the financial incentives for voluntary repatriation.

The new Bavarian office for asylum, which will act as a regional variant of the Federal Office for Migration and Integration (BAMF), was one of several initiatives Söder launched following his election as premier in March.

The office will officially open on August 1, along with seven controversial “anchor centers ,” where migrants will be kept for up to 18 months while the asylum requests are processed.

Bavarian state office for asylum and deportation (picture-alliance/dpa/M. Balk)The Bavarian office for asylum and repatriation is located on the grounds of the Max-Immelmann barracks in Manching.

Asylum office unveiling met with protests

Friday’s unveiling was met with demonstrations organized by the Bavarian Refugee Council.

“Deportations and the CSU’s right-wing election campaign strategy are no reason for us to celebrate,” the council said in its call to rally in Manching.

Christine Kamm, a Green Party lawmaker in the Bavarian state parliament, said the office was a case of tax fraud and called for the Court of Auditors to investigate its financing. “It is incomprehensible that Bavarian tax revenues are being channeled toward what are traditionally tasks for the federal government.”

Read more: Germany: Thousands gather in Munich to protest Bavarian ruling party CSU

Anton Hofreiter, the Green Party’s parliamentary leader in Berlin, described the Bavarian asylum office as “about as needed as a hole in the head.”

“The Bavarian state government continues to err in its asylum policy,” Hofreiter told the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung. “With this state office, the CSU is campaigning by exploiting those in need of protection.”

Ulla Jelpke, a Bundestag member for Germany’s Left Party, accused the CSU of “posing as agitator shortly before the state elections, promising to first lock up as many refugees before deporting them.

Speaking to the same newspaper, Jelpke said that “such an irresponsible policy will lead to a massive poisoning of Germany’s social climate.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban (Reuters/A. Schmidt)

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban with Angela Merkel

Merkel: “How we deal with the migration issue will determine whether Europe will last”

dm/aw (dpa, AFP, AP)



Hungary PM Viktor Orban: ‘I would be out of a job’ with Merkel’s migration policy


California to defend immigration laws against Trump

June 20, 2018

The sanctuary state is fighting the administration’s attempt to restrict funding if it refuses to help federal agents detain and deport immigrants


In this April 14, 2017, file photo, protesters hold up signs outside a courthouse where a federal judge was to hear arguments in the first lawsuit challenging President Donald Trump's executive order to withhold funding from communities that limit cooperation with immigration authorities in San Francisco (AP Photo/Haven Daley, File)

In this April 14, 2017, file photo, protesters hold up signs outside a courthouse where a federal judge was to hear arguments in the first lawsuit challenging President Donald Trump’s executive order to withhold funding from communities that limit cooperation with immigration authorities in San Francisco (AP Photo/Haven Daley, File)

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — After repeatedly suing the Trump administration over US immigration policies, California will find itself in an unusual position Wednesday: defending protections for people in the country illegally against a court challenge by the federal government.

US Judge John Mendez in Sacramento will hear arguments from attorneys for the state and the US Justice Department about a federal request to block three California laws. He was not expected to rule immediately.

One of the laws requires the state to review detention facilities where immigrants are held. Another bars law enforcement from providing release dates and personal information of people in jail, and the third bars employers from allowing immigration officials on their premises unless the officials have a warrant.

The laws, two of which went into effect in January, follow President Donald Trump’s promises to ramp up deportations. The administration has tried to crack down on so-called sanctuary jurisdictions by restricting funding if they refuse to help federal agents detain and deport immigrants.

California, which this year became the second “sanctuary state,” has resisted that move. The state has filed more than 50 lawsuits against the Trump administration, mostly over immigration and environmental decisions, and notched some significant court victories.

The hearing comes amid scrutiny of the administration’s “zero tolerance” policy on illegal US crossings, leaving hundreds of children separated from their families.

A map of Mexico as it was in 1794 is displayed as young immigrants and their supporters rally in support of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) in Los Angeles, California on September 1, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / FREDERIC J. BROWN)

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra joined other top state prosecutors in sending a letter Tuesday to the Justice Department condemning the practice as inhumane and saying it raises serious legal concerns.

The federal government says in its lawsuit against California that the US Constitution gives it pre-eminent power to regulate immigration, and the state can’t obstruct immigration enforcement efforts.

In challenging the three state laws, federal officials say they need inmate information to safely take custody of people in the country illegally who are dangerous and need to be removed. The law on detention facility inspections could lead private contractors to stop holding immigrants, and the restriction on accessing businesses eliminates a “critical enforcement tool” to fight illegal employment, they say.

“Separately and in concert, the challenged provisions have the purpose and effect of impeding enforcement of the immigration laws and impermissibly discriminating against the United States,” Justice Department attorneys said in court documents.

California officials say their sanctuary policies increase public safety by promoting trust between immigrant communities and law enforcement.

The administration is trying to assume powers that have long been understood to belong to states and cannot show that California’s policies are causing harm, the state said in court documents.

There is no evidence that the law barring release dates and personal information is causing more dangerous immigrants to be freed or that detention facilities intend to end their contracts with the federal government because of the inspection requirement, California said.

It notes that the law restricting access to work sites explicitly authorizes compliance with inspections of employment records to make sure employees are allowed to work in the US.

California has moved to dismiss the lawsuit. Mendez, who was nominated to the federal bench in 2007 by Republican President George W. Bush, also planned to hear arguments about that request Wednesday.

“The laws reflect the Legislature’s best determinations on a number of critical issues, such as how the state provides for public safety, protects workers and the workplace, and safeguards all residents’ rights,” California said in its motion to dismiss the lawsuit.

Germany’s future interior minister Horst Seehofer vows to increase deportations — Announces “master plan” — “The new broom sweeps clean”

March 11, 2018

The incoming interior minister has said he has a “master plan for faster asylum procedures, and more consistent deportations.” He also said there was a need for a strong state to protect Germany’s liberal values.

CSU chief Horst Seehofer talking to reporters

Horst Seehofer, Germany’s designated interior minister, said he plans to put in place a “master plan” to speed up asylum procedures and ensure consistent deportations in comments published on Sunday.

“The number of deportations must be increased significantly. We need to take tougher action, especially in the case of criminals and perpetrators among asylum seekers,” Seehofer told German newspaper Bild am Sonntag.

Seehofer, who has been critical of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s immigration policies, said decisions on asylum applications must be made in a few months rather than in a year or more.

Read moreOpinion: An ‘upper limit’ on refugees — by any other name

‘Strong state’

The head of the conservative Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU) vowed to adopt a “zero tolerance” policy toward criminals.

“We want to remain an open-minded and liberal country. But when it comes to protecting our citizens, we need a strong state. I’ll make sure of that,” Seehofer said.

The future interior minister called for effective video surveillance at every hot spot in the country.

“There has to be a consensus throughout Germany that we will no longer tolerate lawless zones,” he said.

Seehofer will take over the newly renamed and enhanced Interior, Construction and Homeland (“Heimat”) Ministry in the upcoming coalition government.

Read moreA deeper look at Germany’s new Interior and Heimat Ministry

ap/aw (Reuters, dpa)

Israel’s Immigration Crisis Is a Lesson for Trump

February 2, 2018


By Zev Chafets

A state founded as a haven for the displaced may deport 40,000 job-seeking Africans.
On the right side of the wall.

 Photographer: Uriel Sinai/Getty Images

In his first State of the Union message on Tuesday, President Donald Trump again made his controversial case for building a wall along the southern border of the U.S. Back in 2016, his opponents scoffed at the feasibility of such a grandiose project, he had. But when asked about it by Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto he was ready for the question. “Look at Israel,” was his response, “Bibi Netanyahu told me the wall works.”

It does. In 2006, thousands of penniless, undocumented Sudanese and Eritreans, most of them young men, began crossing Israel’s border with Egypt. Bedouin coyotes led them on a harrowing journey through the Sinai desert and dropped them off. The migrants made their way to the working class neighborhoods of Tel Aviv, where they found cheap housing and off-the-books jobs.

Work was plentiful. Word spread. Soon Israel found itself facing what looked like an unstoppable flow of undocumented migrants. Employers were happy to hire cheap manual workers. Slumlords made a killing from renting overcrowded apartments. But most citizens, especially in Tel Aviv’s working-class neighborhoods, were unhappy with the influx of rootless foreign migrants.

Bringing the Jewish diaspora back to the Holy Land is the essence of Zionism. In Israel’s 70 years of independence it has welcomed Holocaust refugees, embattled Jewish communities from the Muslim Middle East and, more recently, over a million immigrants from the former Soviet Union and Ethiopia.

But these latest newcomers from Sudan and Eritrea were different. They were, to put it simply, not Jews. They fell outside Israel’s mission statement. Increasingly, the public came to see them as a problem.

Israel is a problem-solving country. In the fall of 2010, it began building a wall along its 152-mile border with Egypt. It was completed within four years. Built mostly of steel, the wall reaches a height of 25 feet in some places, and is equipped with state-of-the-art electronic sensors, cameras and detection technologies. The whole project came in at less than half a billion dollars. The border is now virtually impassable to undocumented workers as well as smugglers and drug traffickers.

But, once you have sealed off the border, Israelis learned, you are still left with the illegal immigrants who are already on your side of it. This is an issue the U.S. will have to contend with if and when it builds its wall. Israel is dealing with it now.

There are an estimated 35,000 to 40,000 Sudanese and Eritreans in the country, mostly in the Tel Aviv area. Until now they have been allowed to stay on renewable two-month visas. But they are now being notified that these permits will not be renewed. On April 1, they will face three choices: They can return to their countries of origin. They can go to prison. Or they can accept resettlement in a third country.

Those who take option number three will receive a $3,500 stipend and a one-way ticket. In the past, most voluntary deportees have been gone to Ghana or Rwanda. So far those countries — which are paid $5,000 per capita by Israel — have not publicly agreed to take more migrants. Still, some Israeli officials are confident that Rwanda, at least, is on board.

Not everyone will be deported. About 10,000 children and their parents will be exempt. They are the Israeli version of the U.S. Dreamers, although their future status is unclear. Some 2,000 bona fide humanitarian refugees from Darfur are also staying. But single men of working age who are presumed to be economic migrants — an estimated 65 percent to 70 percent of the Sudanese and Eritrean community — have two months to decide their next destination.

Those two months promise to be turbulent. Left-wing political parties and activists — with the moral and financial support of “progressive” American Jewish organizations — have been mobilizing. Demonstrations are already taking place. Some of the protestors have deployed the “hands-up-don’t-shoot” gesture, an American import. Others have been clad in chains. This is a campaign designed for television.

The pictures won’t look good, especially if the police use force to disperse angry crowds. Israel — which has long been accused of apartheid by Palestinian propagandists — is sensitive to charges of racism. In their defense, officials cite the fact that in recent years, Israel has deported more illegals from the former Soviet Union than from Eritrea and Sudan. They argue that Rwanda is a safe destination where the United Nations is active in overseeing refugees.  And they contend that the $3,500 stipend the deportees receive is generous enough to cover two years of living expenses.

This rebuttal may be true, but it doesn’t change the likelihood that Israel’s image will take a hit. Prime Minister Netanyahu is highly attuned to foreign public relations, but his first concern is the opinion of voters, who strongly support Israel’s right to control its own borders and to remove illegals. This sentiment is not limited to members of his Likud party or religious nationalists. Last month, Tel Aviv University released the results of a two-year survey on the willingness of Europeans to give asylum to foreign refugees. Israel (counted as a European country in the survey) placed second-to-last, above only the Czech Republic.

American opinion seems to be hardening as well. In Tuesday’s speech, Trump proposed allowing Dreamers to remain in the US, but insisted on ending the visa lottery and closing down so-called chain immigration — positions that have strong public support according to a Harvard-Harris poll published in late January (That poll also revealed a majority want to decrease legal immigration and give preference to those with qualifications that can contribute to the economy.) Significantly, the president did not tell Congress what he proposes to do with the many millions of undocumented non-Dreamers in the U.S.

Some will be deported, as they have been all along. In 2017, federal immigration officers removed 226,000 people in the country illegally, down slightly from the last year of the Barack Obama administration. Israel’s planned operation pales in comparison, but it will provide a real-life example of a post-wall removal policy. The scale, sensitivities and complexities are completely different, of course, but Trump has proven to be a close student of all things Bibi. Presumably he will be watching.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

To contact the author of this story:
Zev Chafets at

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Tobin Harshaw at

Israel to double pace of deporting Africans and replace them with Palestinian workers

January 29, 2018

The goal is to get at least 600 Eritrean and Sudanese nationals to leave each month, for a total of 7,200 a year, and replace them with Palestinian workers

Thousands of asylum seekers protest Israel's efforts to deport them to Rwanda and Uganda on January 22, 2018 outside the Rwandan embassy.
Thousands of asylum seekers protest Israel’s efforts to deport them to Rwanda and Uganda on January 22, 2018 outside the Rwandan embassy.Meged Gozani

The government is seeking to double the pace at which African asylum seekers leave Israel, and to replace them with Palestinianworkers.

The target the government has set is to get at least 600 Eritrean and Sudanese nationals to leave each month, for a total of 7,200 a year. That is more than double the approximately 3,300 who have left in each of the last three years. The last time the government achieved a departure rate similar to its current target was in 2014, when some 6,400 Africans left.

A resolution adopted at a special cabinet session two and a half weeks ago says that if, on average, at least 600 “infiltrators” a month leave, the government will issue one Palestinian work visa for every two Africans who depart. The resolution doesn’t explain why this ratio was chosen.

The Interior Ministry’s Population, Immigration and Border Authority, which is responsible for carrying out the deportations, said on Sunday it wasn’t consulted on the matter and cannot explain the decision.

According to the authority’s data, some 34,000 Eritrean and Sudanese adults currently live in Israel. Most are employed in restaurants, hotels or cleaning jobs, and the government expects most of them to leave within the next three years.

In their stead, the resolution said, the government will grant up to 12,000 work visas to Palestinians. An inter-ministerial committee will decide which industries these Palestinians will be authorized to work in.

The cabinet also decided at that meeting to grant work visas to up to 13,000 additional Palestinians, including 1,500 for the restaurant industry, 1,000 for the hotel industry, 7,000 for construction, 2,000 for agriculture, 1,000 for institutional nursing care and 700 for East Jerusalem hospitals.

According to data from the Office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, some 70,000 Palestinians are already employed in Israel and another 30,000 in the settlements.

About 10 days ago, the immigration authority began informing asylum seekers held at the detention facility in Holot that if they don’t leave Israel, they will be jailed indefinitely at Saharonim Prison. So far, such notices have been handed to a few dozen of the approximately 900 asylum seekers at Holot, which is slated to be closed in about another six weeks.

Israel about to read them the riot act 

In early February, the authority is slated to start handing out such notices to thousands of asylum seekers who aren’t at Holot when they come to renew their visas, which they must do every two months. Authority employees will give these asylum seekers one final two-month visa and tell them that if they haven’t left by the time it expires, they will be unable to work legally and be subject to arrest and unlimited detention. This step is expected to remove thousands of asylum seekers from the workforce in April and May.

Hoteliers and restaurateurs have recently warned that mass deportations of asylum seekers will seriously harm their industries. They say there aren’t enough Israelis willing to do the jobs now done by Eritreans and Sudanese, even if they are offered higher wages.

Tourism Minister Yuval Levin told TheMarker three weeks ago that he’s trying to get government approval to bring in migrant workers from the Philippines to replace the African asylum seekers at hotels. On Sunday his office said it has received approval for 500 Filipinos now and another 500 later if the program proves successful, along with 1,000 Palestinians.

More than three years ago, the government approved letting 1,500 Jordanians come to Israel to work in Eilat hotels in place of African asylum seekers. These workers commute to Israel, going home every night.

Shai Berman, head of the Israeli Restaurant Association, said on Sunday that the plan approved by the government is inadequate. “We received a quota of 1,500 Palestinian workers who are supposed to replace more than 10,000 asylum seekers,” he said. “Given that Israelis aren’t interested in filling these positions, that’s not really a solution.”

Moreover, he said, employing Palestinians “isn’t at all simple. You have to get a permit from the army for them to stay overnight and then rent apartments for them. You have to remember that for us restaurateurs, it’s not like in construction, where they can come to work and at 3 P.M. the van comes and takes them back home. For us, work at many businesses begins at 3 P.M., and it also includes weekends.”

Meanwhile, the immigration authority is still trying to recruit new immigration inspectors to help carry out the deportations. In response to a question from Haaretz, the authority said on Sunday that 300 people have applied for the jobs, of whom 100 will be hired, almost doubling the current number of inspectors.

The new inspectors will start work in March on two-year contracts. Aside from detaining asylum seekers who are here illegally, they will be responsible for enforcing the law against businesses that employ asylum seekers illegally.

The authority said it has also received some 300 applications for 40 new positions at the Refugee Status Determination unit in south Tel Aviv, which processes asylum applications. This is a significant boost over the unit’s current staff of 60.

Both categories of new workers are being promised special bonuses – 30,000 shekels ($8,900) for the inspectors and 20,000 shekels for the RSD staffers – if they stay on the job for a specified period of time.