Circular Decree: The Federal Foreign Office restricts reunifications of refugee families
Leaving one’s family behind
The outcome of bureaucracy: A stamp with six letters has the power to divide families by restrictions.
The outcome of bureaucracy: A stamp with six letters has the power to divide families by restrictions.

:bsz international. The Federal Foreign Office (FFO) adopts a circular decree and defines new guidelines making family reunification effectively impossible. The Federal Government maintains its course of restriction policy, claiming victims on a daily basis.

German asylum policy’s series of restrictive sanctions continues: As the circular decree was passed on March 20, family reunification with children and recognised refugees in Germany became nearly impossible. In terms of reunification with siblings the guidelines premise: “Parents must prove that there is enough housing space available after their children’s arrival in Germany (§29 Abs. 1 Ziff. 2 AufenthG) […] Furthermore parents need to prove that they can assure a livelihood for themselves and their children (§5 Abs. 1 Ziff. 1 AufenthG).” Only if there is an “atypical case”, one might “exceptionally” desist from that. An examination shall check whether children could stay with relatives or at a refugee camp. The separation of parents or parents and their children is being considered reasonable by the Federal Foreign Office. 

Against the grain

Instead of closing legal gaps concerning the topic of family reunification, the FFO puts obstacles in the way. It becomes almost impossible that in Germany recognised refugees could prove “enough housing space” to maintain parents and siblings. Although it is permitted by law, desisting from ensuring the means of subsistence shall only be allowed in an exceptional case. The Home Office of Lower Saxony campaigns for an improvement of this situation and puts pressure on the Federal Ministry of Interior by demanding a humane solution on statutory basis. Therefore, families shall be spared the troubles of being separated. Nevertheless, the Federal Government remains stationary. A reaction from the North Rhine-Westphalian Governmental Department of Interior and Communal is still being expected. 

So much for #NRWir!

A macabre example from NRW shows the consequences of that restriction. “It’s the worst case of my life”, says lawyer Jeremias Mameghani. The family of his client, Syrian refugee Salah J., drowned when they attempted to get to their husband and father. The Syrian, who lives in Ratingen, is said to pay the transportation costs amounted to 2,000 Euro all by himself. “His wife, his baby and his three-year-old daughter died during this. I am simply horrified, sad and angry”, his lawyer continues. The father of the family fled because he was being called up for military service into Assad’s army. The basic right of asylum does not apply in this case, because it does not include the basic right of conscientious objection to military service. Even deniers of wars against international law or relative activities do not get an adequate refugee status. 

Hence, the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees takes a view that is questionable but apparently wanted by politics. The outcome of that practice: they only get subsidiary protection. For lack of chances of family reunification following family members are forced to risk their lives trying to get back together on their own account. The Bundestag needs to reverse the restriction on family reunification for subsidiary protected immediately. Opposition’s applications concerning family reunification (draft bill by Die Grünen, request from LINKE) are due in April.

:Marcus Boxler