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Image: Patrick Pleul/dpa/picture-alliance

Make it easier to become German, ministers urge

April 30, 2021

Easier child access to German citizenship has been floated by integration ministers of Germany's 16 states. But the idea is likely to face opposition from federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer.


Children born to foreigners living in Germany should be granted faster access by law to German citizenship, integration ministers from Germany's 16 states have urged in a majority appeal.

Meeting in the harbor city-state of Bremen Friday, ministers called on the federal government to reform Germany's Nationality Act (StAG) by reducing a resident child's waiting time for citizenship from the current eight years to six years.

A reduction to four years should apply to foreign families who show special integrative aptitude, urged ministers, who form Germany's Integration Ministers' Conference (IntMK). The group, whose rotating chair is currently held by Bremen's Social and Integration Senator Anja Stahmann of Germany's opposition Greens, was initiated under Chancellor Angela Merkel in 2007 to coordinate regional and federal policies, but often exposes major differences among state approaches.

Sozialsenatorin Anja Stahmann
Ease rules, urges Bremen minister Anja StahmannImage: www.soziales.bremen.de

Stahmann said that the ministers meeting Friday also urged for relaxing Germany's legislated aversion to multiple nationalities and that German language acquisition at the mid-range B1 level be sufficient to test successfully for citizenship.

The IntMK also received a study showing trust migrants hold toward German authorities and urged the federal government to fully use EU-negotiated quotas to bring "subsidiary" family members and reunite them with refugees already in Germany. Of the 12,000 such entries possible last year only 5,300 visas were issued, it said.

Women and children disembarking at Hanover's airport
Child refugees arriving at Hanover's airport from Greece. 8,6 or 4 years to citizenship?Image: Julian Stratenschulte/dpa/picture alliance

Last week, a flight carrying 103 refugees landed in Hanover, raising to 2,765 the number of arrivals in Germany since April 2020, meeting the target of 2,750 that Germany had declared itself willing to accept.

'Secondary migration' along 'Balkan route' still prevalent

Stahmann had condemned what she called the "repeated refusal" of Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer to accept more refugees from crowded camps in Greece. 

Seehofer, former premier of Bavaria, where Germany's 2015 refugee crisis unfolded, last week prolonged federal controls along the German-Austrian border, citing a "secondary migration of refugees" still prevalent through EU member nations.

The situation on the Aegean maritime border between Turkey and Greece, was "still highly fragile," said Seehofer, also warning of "illegal migration potential on the Balkan route."

Horst Seehofer gestures with his right hand at a September 2020 press conference
Hardline German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer questions "open border" practicesImage: picture-alliance/dpa/J. Carstensen

In January alone, he said, authorities had detected 24 cases of people smugglers using risky container trucks and vans carrying 103 occupants along the German border with Austria.

Maritime Bremen, which prides itself on being "world open," was where  in 2018 one of Seehofer's immigration directors — attached to Germany's Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) — was accused of falsifying asylum approvals.

Last week, Bremen's regional court dropped their prosecution  of the case on the condition that the former BAMF director, now aged 59, pay a fine of €10,000 ($12,124). 

ipj/sms (KNA; AFP, dpa, epd)

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