Sputnik: What is your take on the scandal surrounding the BAMF (Federal Office for Migration and Refugees) in Germany? Considering that asylum seekers have been illegally accepted for four years, how could it have happened especially since the issue of migration is so acute in Germany?
Gerald Schneider: The case in Bremen is just a tip of the iceberg; the problem run much deeper than that. I published an article one year ago together with a master’s students here at the University of Konstanz and we discovered that asylum recognition is unequally applied throughout Germany.
So, what we see are systematic differences between German lands. Some have high recognition rates like Bremen, but other ones have really low recognition rates, like Saxony. So, what we have in essence is cases of systematic positive discrimination like Bremen, but we also have cases of negative discrimination like some of the other states.
The political discussion now focuses largely on Bremen, which is understandable, but we should not forget that the chance of asylum seekers to get recognized as refugees is very unequal and that we also have systematic cases of negative discrimination.
Sputnik: I don’t understand how could it have happened that unequally applied asylum could be taking place for years? Are there no bodies that are actually installed to oversee this?
Gerald Schneider: The Federal Office of Migration and Refugees is known to be badly run, insufficiently controlled, but this is happening in the centers where these decisions are made.
These centers are spread out all over the country, and the decision makers decide largely in isolation; and it’s quite natural that they are influenced by the local political and socio-economic climate, which is much more open towards foreigners, for instance in Bremen, but a little bit more hostile in some lands like Saxony, which I mentioned beforehand.
Sputnik: I see, so it varies from region to region in the country.
Gerald Schneider: Exactly. But there is a federal law, a federal obligation, to treat these asylum seekers equally. Such differences should not exist on a systematic level.
Sputnik: Are the authorities aware of this?
Gerald Schneider: The authorities are aware of this. It’s been one year since our study was published. There were several ‘interventions’ in the German Bundestag, the federal parliament, which cited out study.
The Federal Office of Migration and Refugees denied that these differences are of a systematic nature, but now they acknowledge that these differences exist, and they make now one year too late, in my opinion, this kind of examination and they dig deep into the data.
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