A federal police officer checks a traveler's documents at Frankfurt airport | Photo: Picture-alliance/dpa/B.Roessler
A federal police officer checks a traveler's documents at Frankfurt airport | Photo: Picture-alliance/dpa/B.Roessler

Despite the rising number of asylum seekers ordered to leave Germany, deportation figures fell in 2019. But the reasons why are more complicated than it may seem.

Germany deported fewer asylum seekers in 2019 than the year before, despite a rise in the number of people ordered to leave and the government's promise to see through more deportations, German newspaper Welt am Sonntag reported on Sunday.

Referring to federal police data, Welt am Sonntag reported that Germany deported 20,587 people between January and November last year, compared to 23,617 the year before.

Even without figures from December, which will be available next week, the data shows that fewer rejected asylum seekers were deported in 2019 than in 2018. Since May last year, no more than 2,000 rejected asylum-seekers were deported each month.

Read more: Germany: Thousands of migrants return after deportation, report says

Annual deportation figures in Germany have fallen consistently since 2016, when Germany carried out 25,375 deportations.

That year, German Chancellor Angela Merkel had said her government wanted to carry out a larger number of deportations.

"It needs to be clear: if someone's asylum request is rejected, they must leave the country," she had said at a gathering of her conservative Christian Democrats in the German state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.

Number of rejected cases rises

Germany issued deportation orders for 248,861 asylum seekers as of November 2019, an increase of 5% over the year before, according to figures seen by Welt am Sonntag.

Of these cases, 200,598 were so-called "geduldete," or tolerated persons. In such cases, the person has received orders to leave, but the state is temporarily unable to complete the deportation.

The most common reason for a delay is that an asylum seeker lacks the necessary travel documents. If the person's identity cannot be verified, the home country will not issue travel documents.

In some cases, rejected asylum seekers receive the right to stay in Germany through another channel, for example by giving birth to a German child or marrying a German citizen, reported Welt am Sonntag, citing the Interior Ministry's report on the decrease in figures.

Failed deportation attempts

Another reason is that police are often unable to carry out a deportation.

In the first three quarters of 2019, police were unable to carry out 20,210 deportations because the person in question was not at home.

Only a small minority of people are taken into police custody prior to the day of their deportation. For that reason, many people with deportation orders are able to evade arrest.

A further 2,839 deportations could not be completed after the person was taken into custody. Reasons included acts of resistance or because the airplane pilot declined to take them.

Author: Kristie Padson

First published: January 12, 2020

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