More than 16,000 people have been issued with "Duldung Light" status in Germany | Photo: Picture-Alliance
More than 16,000 people have been issued with "Duldung Light" status in Germany | Photo: Picture-Alliance

The German Greens party is calling on the government to abolish a law introduced in 2020 aimed at boosting forced returns of unidentified asylum seekers. The law known as "Duldung Light" prevents people from working if they fail to prove their identity.

The German Greens party this week called for the "Duldung Light" law, which came into effect in April 2020, to be scrapped, saying that it has resulted in some migrants being downgraded to "third-class citizens."

Filiz Polat, the Greens parliamentary spokesperson on migration policy, told the newspaper Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung (New Osnabrück Newspaper) on Wednesday that people were being denied the right to employment or training and were receiving welfare payments below a basic subsistence level.

Moreover, those with "Duldung Light" status are subject to the "residency obligation" rule ("Wohnsitzauflage"), which means they are not allowed to leave a designated area. This amounted to a "conscious acceptance of their precarious socio-economic situation," Polat said. In constitutional terms, the law is highly problematic, he said. "That is why "Duldung Light" should be abolished."

'Identity unverified'

The law, an amendment to the German Residence Act, was part of a policy package on migration introduced in 2019 by the federal interior minister Horst Seehofer and was aimed at making it easier to deport rejected asylum seekers.

It specifically applies to foreign nationals who are required to leave Germany but cannot be deported because their identity has not been verified – for example, because they have no passport or equivalent ID, or because they deceived the authorities about their identity or nationality.

Section 60b of the law says that people issued with certificates stating "for persons whose identity is not verified" are "not allowed to pursue an economic activity."

Thousands of people have been affected by the law, the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung reports. By January 31, 2021, 16,084 people had received "Duldung Light" status, according to information from the interior ministry obtained by Polat. The largest groups affected were said to be nationals of Nigeria (1,336), India (1,290) and Pakistan (1,164), according to the paper.

The German Greens say the rules determining who receives a "Duldung Light" are "vague" and their interpretation is too often left to individual local or state authorities. "That leads to legal uncertainty and, in the worst case, arbitrariness," Polat said.

With KNA


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