Should Germany re-register hundreds of thousands of refugees? | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 06.01.2017
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Should Germany re-register hundreds of thousands of refugees?

To guarantee domestic security, German Development Minister Gerd Müller would like to see all refugees who have entered Germany since 2015 re-questioned, and re-registered. Is that necessary?

In the wake of the December terrorist attack on a Berlin Christmas market by a Tunisian asylum-seeker as well as multiple cases of welfare fraud by refugees, Development Minister Gerd Müller is urging to "retroactively check all refugees who have entered the country since 2015."

As the debate about security and refugees heats up in Germany months ahead of national elections in September, the Christian Social Union (CSU) member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's cabinet argued that Germans are entitled to having "fully registered and reviewed all refugees who have come to Germany over the past two years."

Personal data, photo, fingerprints

No doubt the authorities need to know who has entered the country, Bernd Mesovic, deputy director of Germany's Pro Asyl organization, told DW. But Development Minister Müller should detail what exactly he means by "retroactive checks" and controls, Mesovic cautioned, adding that it's a complicated issue, but at least as far as registration is concerned, the initial problems seem to be more or less sorted out by now.

In fact, the Interior Ministry (BMI) reported on Friday that Germany has concluded the months long process of re-registering asylum-seekers who fell through the cracks, due to the huge number of applicants that poured into Germany in 2015. The procedure, including fingerprints and a standard ID, was launched nationwide in May 2016.

image of a fingerprint on a computer (picture-alliance/dpa/P. Kneffel)

Overwhelmed authorities were initally unable to properly document and fingerprint every single refugee

Refugees - many asylum-seekers came to Germany without any form of documentation – were initially often registered with only a photograph but no fingerprints. And there are bound to be refugees who have still not come forward to the authorities, a BMI spokesman conceded - and thus remain undocumented. On the other hand, thousands who might have initially registered have since moved on to other destinations, while many others have apparently registered more than once.

Rampant welfare fraud?

Targeting another refugee-related issue, CSU politician Müller pointed at recent reports of more than 300 cases of welfare fraud by asylum-seekers, warning that Germany must assume "tens of thousands" of similar cases.

In the northern city of Braunschweig, refugees - most of them Sudanese - had registered several times in different locations in order to receive multiple welfare benefits. Overworked officials never noticed the deception, estimated at costing taxpayers 3 to 5 million euros ($3.2-5.3 million).

Deter Europe-bound migration

Müller also announced plans to reorganize economic aid to Africa. Speaking at a CSU summit on security policy, he said Africa's population is set to double and millions of young people will be looking for a future.

Giving them a home in Europe is "no solution," according to Müller. People must have prospects for a future in their own countries, he said, and called for expanding cooperation with North African countries.


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