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Suggestions for Curbing Abuse of the Asylum Law (April 10, 1989)

A conservative lawyer asserts that asylum must be reserved for the truly persecuted and not used as a backdoor route to immigration for economic reasons. He argues that asylum abuse could be curbed through various procedural and administrative changes that would not require a constitutional amendment. Access to asylum proceedings, he notes, must be made more difficult, and legitimate applications must be quickly separated from spurious ones.

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People Seeking Work are not Entitled to Asylum
How the abuse can be curbed

The number of asylum seekers was roughly 103,000 in 1988; the current trend suggests that the figure will double in 1989. Most petitions for asylum – about 90 percent – are denied. Therefore the federal government has decided that from now on citizens of Yugoslavia will also be among those foreign nationals required to obtain an entry visa. It is hoped that this will help curb asylum abuse. The charge of abuse is raised by some on the basis of the number of denied asylum petitions. Others – primarily from relief organization circles – don’t want to notice any asylum abuse at all, because “taking advantage of a basic right can never be abuse.” The truth about asylum abuse lies in the middle of these two opposing viewpoints.

Unsuccessful asylum seekers from poor, war-torn, or crisis-ridden regions can still hope that, for reasons of the protection of human dignity (Article 1 of the Basic Law), they will not be forced to leave the Federal Republic immediately. Their presence is to be tolerated [dulden]. This is often the outcome of court proceedings that fail to grant asylum but still do not permit the sanctions envisaged by the Aliens Act. In an asylum proceeding, even this sort of outcome can be interpreted as a success. This result often occurs with foreigners whose asylum applications were not totally without prospects for success from a de facto or de jure perspective. In these cases, too, it cannot necessarily be claimed that the right to asylum as guaranteed by the Basic Law is being abused. Asylum abuse exists, however, when it is obvious that the asylum petition is not based on any threat in the applicant’s country of origin and [when the petition] is merely filed to undermine those laws of the Federal Republic that pertain to foreign nationals.

From this perspective, there is certainly massive abuse of asylum today. More than half of all applicants for asylum come from Yugoslavia (1988 recognition rate: 0.2 percent) and Poland (1988 recognition rate: 2.6 percent). These people apply for political asylum almost exclusively for economic reasons. These applicants receive a temporary right of residence [Bleiberecht], which is enticing in light of the conditions in their home countries. For both Yugoslavs and Poles, the legally binding rejection of a petition for asylum generally means that a temporary stay of deportation [Duldung] is not, or no longer, an option.

Instances of abuse in public and private law do not generally produce lasting benefits if the person in question continues to pursue his case by filing motions. That is not the case with asylum abuse. Even an illegitimately filed petition leads to a temporary right of residence. These asylum seekers are also guaranteed room and board, clothing, and medical services while their petitions are being reviewed and until a legally binding ruling is made. The annual costs for all asylum seekers are presently estimated at 3 billion marks. A considerable percentage of rejected asylum seekers go underground in big cities and live there relatively unbothered. The financial and social harm of asylum abuse is considerable.

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