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Court: Immigrants Not Allowed to Move

The German Constitutional Court on Wednesday ruled that ethnic Germans who immigrate to Germany from Eastern Europe will only receive social benefits if they remain in the place assigned to them by the authorities for the first three years after their arrival. The court was reacting to a case filed by a woman of German descent who had moved to the German town of Elze in Lower Saxony from Moscow in 1996 and was refused social welfare when she moved to a neighboring town two years later. The law restricting the movement of ethnic Germans for the first three years after their arrival was created in 1998 after a flood of ethnic Germans preferred to move to certain regions in Germany. That put a strain on local state coffers since most of the ethnic Germans initially applied for welfare. The Federal Commissioner for Ethnic Germans, Jochen Welt, welcomed the court decision. "The binding allocation of place for ethnic Germans for the first three years could effectively prevent the building of ghettos that were seen in the early years of immigration," Welt said.