German churches intervened in almost 500 deportation of asylum seekers in Q1 2018

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Deutsche Welle reports that German churches intervened in 498 deportations of asylum seekers who they believed required reconsideration, in the first quarter of 2018 in line with a 2015 law. According to government data there was no great increase on 2017, which saw 1,478 deportations prevented through church asylum throughout the year, “but a significant increase on 2016, which saw only 527 cases in the whole year.”

The German interior ministry figures came from an official answer to a parliamentary question put by the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), which has long been critical of the German churches, despite insisting that Christianity is part of Germany’s cultural identity.

The Deutsche Welle report, says “that the church tradition of offering humanitarian asylum was partially codified in February 2015, when the German Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) made a non-legally-binding agreement with Germany’s Protestant and Catholic Churches. This allows specific church representatives to present “particularly hard cases” of people threatened with deportation to BAMF again for reconsideration. A Munich court ruling recently clarified that church asylum could be overridden by a BAMF order.”

The BAMF, and the state governments, are expected to meet with church representatives again this month to “improve the procedural agreement.”

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