Thousands of migrants are suing the German authorities for suspending the time limit to return asylum seekers to the country where they first entered Europe during the coronavirus crisis. Without the suspension, over 2,500 asylum seekers would have been able to remain in Germany to have their asylum claim processed.
More than 9,000 people in Germany have taken legal action against immigration authorities for suspending a six-month deadline on deportation under "Dublin rules."
Germany temporarily stopped sending asylum seekers to Italy and other European countries under the Dublin system in March due to the coronavirus pandemic. Controversially, it also suspended the six-month time limit after which they would normally no longer be at risk of a Dublin deportation.
The European regulation known as Dublin III is used to determine which European country is responsible for processing an asylum seeker’s claim – generally, this is the country where the migrant first entered the EU. However asylum seekers can no longer be sent back once they have spent six months elsewhere.
EU legal interpretation
Between early March and the beginning of June, Germany's migration authority BAMF informed about 21,700 asylum seekers that the six-month rule had been suspended, as well as transfer procedures under Dublin.
This went against the European Commission's legal interpretation, which had made it clear in April that the six-month period after which a country of destination becomes responsible for an asylum application would still apply during the pandemic.
According to information from BAMF, requested by the German Green party and seen by the news agency dpa, under normal circumstances – had the six-month rule still been in force – the responsibility for processing the asylum cases of about 2,600 people would have passed to Germany.
In early June, 9,300 lawsuits against the BAMF decision were still pending.
Luise Amtsberg, Green party spokeswoman for refugee policy, criticized the German interior ministry, saying it was "bureaucratic madness" that people must take legal action regarding their own transfers.