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L-R: Franziska Giffey, Bettina Jarasch and Katina Schubert , Source: SPD Berlin on Facebook

Asylum seekers in Berlin on the rise, new coalition wants to increase naturalisation

Asylum seekers in Berlin on the rise, new coalition wants to increase naturalisation

The decision to rise naturalisations to 20,000 per year is part of the new coalition agreement between the SPD, Greens and Die Linke

Yesterday, during the coalition negotiations for the Berlin state government between the SPD, the Greens and Die Linke, the parties agreed to increase the number of naturalisations and bring more refugees into the city.

According to SPD candidate and most likely future mayor of Berlin, Franziska Giffey, currently, 7,000 people receive German citizenship in Berlin per year. Now, the coalition wants to increase that number to 20,000, while providing work permits for as many people with a migrant background as possible.

The move is partially motivated by the already strained migrant accommodation services in the city coupled with the recent situation on the Polish-Belarussian border. During the coalition negotiations, the three parties agreed with the vision that Berlin should be a ‘cosmopolitan international metropolis’, but also a ‘city of refuge’.

Accommodation is stretched thin

The number of new migrants and refugees has risen sharply in recent months. According to the State Office for Refugee Affairs, since the start of 2021, around 10,000 people have submitted asylum applications. For comparison, in 2019 that number was around 6,000, while in 2018 it was 3,700.

Around 2,100 migrants have arrived in Berlin in October alone and, after some of them were redistributed to the rest of the country, 1,400 remained. This is nearly twice as much as last year.

At the same time, the Brandenburg Police reported picking up between 50 and 200 migrants coming via the Polish-Belarussian border every day, mostly from Iraq and Syria. According to a spokesman from the Berlin Federal Police Department, there were 717 people between 1 and 10 November.

The State Office for Refugee Affairs reports that currently there are only 800 migrant housing spots available while authorities assume the number will continue to rise. Furthermore, refugee-hosting capacities are currently at around 35,000 people and the biggest hurdle will be to provide housing for the new arrivals.

Rising up to the challenge

According to Franziska Giffey, currently, there are around 400,000 people in Berlin who lack German citizenship and many of them have been living in the city for years. Providing them with citizenship will naturally expedite their integration into society.

This is why the coalition aims to streamline and expedite the naturalisation process, reducing waiting time on citizenship applications to three months. Furthermore, immigration authorities should receive more funding, especially when it comes to language support. This is motivated by the idea that everyone in Berlin should be able to communicate with the authorities.

Chairman of the Berlin Greens, Bettina Jarasch, explained that the city should also focus on providing people with decent living standards and moving away from the current communal emergency housing model. At the same time, local authorities should establish an independent advisory board to help individual cases pass through the system.

Katina Schubert from Die Linke, on the other hand, wants to focus on issuing more work permits. Furthermore, she stressed an essential paradigm shift in the current legislative framework, that should prevent immigration authorities from splitting up families.

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