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Migration: The federal and state governments will only be discussing refugee costs in May

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Incendiary letters from cities and districts reach Berlin. It’s about the number of new asylum seekers arriving and the costs involved. What concrete support from the federal government looks like?

After calls for help from numerous municipalities, the federal government and the federal states want to discuss the distribution of the costs for taking in refugees on May 10th. This was announced by a spokeswoman for the Lower Saxony state government in Hanover. The main topic, possibly even the only topic, will be refugee financing. The meeting in the Chancellery was originally expected for April.

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Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser meanwhile rejected the accusation in the Bundestag that she was ignoring the problems of the municipalities in accommodating and caring for refugees. The SPD politician said in a plenary session that the main reason for the great burden on the municipalities was refugee immigration from Ukraine. The minister asserted that she herself was fundamentally concerned with “order in migration policy”. This is one of the reasons why the federal government has extended detention pending deportation and accelerated the asylum procedure.

The CSU MP Stephan Mayer said that the most recent so-called refugee summit in the Federal Ministry of the Interior was a “disappointment for the municipalities”. Faeser leaves those responsible on site alone with the problems. The interior minister countered that the federal government had provided 3.75 billion euros in support for the accommodation, care and integration of refugees last year. 2.5 billion euros have already been earmarked for this year. Further support is possible, but we “have to wait a little longer to see how things develop”.

Federal-state meeting on Thursday

Several Prime Ministers had already made it clear before a meeting of the heads of government of the federal states this Thursday that they were calling for the federal government to contribute more financially to the costs of accommodating and caring for the refugees, also in favor of the municipalities. According to dpa information, the Chancellery had proposed the date for the special prime ministers’ conference to the federal states.

Bremen’s Mayor Andreas Bovenschulte (SPD) told the “Spiegel”: “States and municipalities are still willing to make their contribution to the integration of the refugees, i.e. to provide accommodation and apartments, daycare and school places.” However, they are increasingly reaching the limits of their economic capacity. “I therefore expect that the federal government will not only assume the full cost of accommodation, but also, as in 2015, a per capita allowance for the accommodation and care of asylum seekers,” said Bovenschulte.

According to Saxony’s Interior Minister Armin Schuster (CDU), Germany must expect 350,000 to 400,000 asylum seekers if the influx continues this year. This does not include war refugees from Ukraine. This number could perhaps even overload the systems in Germany in terms of capability and readiness. At the same time, Schuster reiterated his call to the federal government to implement the announced offensive to return rejected asylum seekers.

Number of asylum applications increased significantly

The German Association of Cities had suggested that the federal government should also provide its own accommodation in the future in order to be able to take in refugees at short notice. However, the federal government is skeptical about this proposal. City Council President Markus Lewe told the “Süddeutsche Zeitung” that the pressure on the cities was increasing every day. The prime ministers’ conference must deliver results, not just the summit in May, he demanded.

In February, the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (Bamf) received 26,149 asylum applications. Around 24,000 of these affected people who applied for asylum in Germany for the first time – for comparison: in February 2022 there were 13,915. In January 2023, the number of initial applications had more than doubled compared to the same month last year – from 13,776 to 29,072 applications. War refugees from Ukraine are admitted to the EU without having to apply for asylum.

Discussion about political officials

The Hessian member of the Bundestag Stefan Heck (CDU) accused Faeser of wanting to expand the catalog of so-called political officials to include the heads of the Bamf and the Federal Office for Information Security (BSI), although the Hessian SPD she led had a corresponding project by the CDU -led Hessian state government as “not compatible with the Basic Law”. Faeser replied: “I did what I thought was right as a member of the federal government and I also stand by this decision.”

Political officials, unlike agency heads who do not fall into this category, may be placed on hiatus. Faeser fired former BSI President Arne Schönbohm last fall. The personnel had caused some excitement. Schönbohm is now head of the Federal Academy for Public Administration. President of the Bamf is Hans-Eckhard Sommer, appointed by Faeser’s predecessor, Horst Seehofer (CSU).

Source: Stern

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