The Bundesrat, or second chamber of the German parliament, has now approved the second asylum package.
The second asylum package specifies groups of asylum-seekers for whom the accelerated procedure can be used: they will include asylum-seekers from states classed as safe countries, those submitting a repeat request for asylum and asylum-seekers who do not cooperate during the asylum procedure. Applicants will be deemed unwilling to cooperate if, for instance, they conceal their true identity or refuse to be finger-printed.
"We will be deciding faster on applications lodged by citizens of safe countries and by individuals who conceal their true identity. That is only fair to the majority of applicants who do cooperate fully," said Ole Schröder, Parliamentary State Secretary in the Federal Ministry of the Interior on 25 February during the German Bundestag’s final deliberations on the key measures contained in the asylum package.
Operations are to be streamlined such that the asylum procedure can be completed within a week. Should refugees wish to take legal action to contest the rejection of their request for asylum, these legal proceedings too are to be finalised within two weeks.
Until the accelerated procedure is completed, asylum-seekers will be required to stay in the initial reception facilities. Individuals will receive benefits only once they have been properly registered in the reception facility, and provided they comply with the new stricter residence requirements.
The package makes the new reception facilities responsible for the complete asylum proceedings. Asylum-seekers can also be deported directly from the initial reception facilities.
Families of some refugees will not be allowed to join them for a fixed period
To allow Germany to cope better with the massive influx of refugees, the families of asylum-seekers entitled to subsidiary protection will not be permitted to follow them to Germany for a period of two years. This regulation will apply to all individuals with subsidiary protection issued with a residence permit after the legislation comes into force.
Subsidiary protection is afforded to individuals who cannot be granted asylum or recognised as refugees, although they cannot be deported for humanitarian reasons. Individuals entitled to subsidiary protection under the provisions of the Asylum Act, Section 4 (1) are issued with a residence permit in line with the provisions laid out in the second option presented in sentence 1 of Section 25 (2) of the Residence Act.
Benefits will be modified
The monthly cash sums provided for individual needs pursuant to the Asylum-Seekers’ Benefits Act are to be modified, taking into account the constitutional guidelines regarding minimum subsistence levels. For an unmarried benefit recipient this will translate as a ten-euro reduction in benefits per month.
Removing obstacles to deportation
Often unsuccessful asylum-seekers submit medical certificates to avoid deportation. To counter any abuse, the legislation lays out specific requirements. Deportation will be possible even if the medical care in the country of destination is not equivalent to that in Germany.
Only life-threatening or serious illnesses, which would be significantly worsened as a result of deportation, will be considered valid reasons in future. A suitably qualified medical practitioner will in future have to issue a certificate laying out credible medical grounds that preclude deportation.
Procuring replacement documents and protecting minors
Frequently individuals cannot be deported because they have no papers. A new organisation is to be created that will be responsible for procuring replacement travel documents. This will allow the federal police to support the federal states more effectively with deportations.
Legal minors who are housed in reception facilities and shared accommodation are to be better protected. People working in these facilities will need a full police clearance certificate in future.