Local governments have to shoulder most of the costs for people who are allowed to stay in Germany after their asylum application is rejected. City and county representatives believe this imposes an unjust burden on local communities.
Municipal governments in Germany have called for more funding for people whose asylum applications have been rejected but who are still allowed to legally stay in the country.
In early January, fifteen mayors from the county of Düren sent a joint letter to their state and national parliamentary representatives, calling the current funding mechanism "a ticking time bomb" and asking for more money from the state and federal government, according to newspaper Aachener Zeitung.
Similarly, Volker Wiebels, a spokesperson for Mülheim an der Ruhr, a city in western Germany, told radio station WDR 5 that because of the costs for rejected asylum seekers, the city "can no longer fulfill many non-mandatory but important tasks."
This is not the first time municipalities have pushed for more funding from state and federal governments to pay for expenses for migrants and refugees. Just a month ago, Germany's local governments called for more help from their federal counterparts to integrate refugees into the job market.
Many allowed to stay
In Germany, the government is required to pay for the basic necessities for people whose deportation has been temporarily halted and who do not have a sufficient income. For the first three months, the state has to pay for things such as housing, health care, clothing and food, but from the fourth month on, municipalities have to foot the bill.
The costs for Mülheim – a city of roughly 170,000 people in western Germany with 500 rejected asylum seekers granted a "tolerated permit to stay" – are 6 million euros per year, according to WDR 5. In North-Rhine Westphalia, the biggest of Germany's 16 states, there are reportedly 72,000 rejected asylum seekers with this kind of visa status, called a "Duldung."
Common reasons for why people are allowed to stay in Germany, often for much longer than three months, are that they have medical or psychological issues that could make a deportation unbearable, or that important documents are missing. Many countries refuse to accept deported asylum seekers if the German state does not supply identity documents that prove that the person had applied for asylum there.
Very hard to find a job
Those who have been granted a "Duldung" are often allowed to seek out employment, but finding a job can be difficult, forcing many to rely financially on the state. People with a "tolerated permit to stay" can only be hired with the permission of their local immigration office and often have to fulfill additional requirements (such as proving that there is no German citizen more or equally qualified to fill the position). Additionally, not knowing whether someone will be allowed to stay in the country for more than a few months can deter many employers from hiring a person with a "Duldung."
For those who have not been granted asylum, access to state-funded language and integration classes is limited. While this saves the government expenses in the short term, it can also cause higher costs in the long term. "For those who have been granted a tolerated permit to stay, you have very narrow rules when it comes to language courses, and without knowing the language, people won't successfully integrate into the labor market or our society," Luidger Wolterhoff, who works for the city of Gelsenkirchen, told WDR 5.