In a parliamentary inquiry from Die Linke (the Left Party), the federal government revealed that as of the end of June, there were 549,209 people living in Germany who had had their asylum application rejected, Bild reported on Thursday.
About three quarters of them had been living in Germany at least six years.
The largest group came from Turkey (about 77,600), followed by Kosovo (68,549) and Serbia (50,817). Serbia and Kosovo were declared safe countries of origin by the German government in 2014 and 2015, respectively.
About half of the total number had an unlimited permit to stay, and another third had a temporary permit to stay.
Bild also reported that there were 168,212 people living as “tolerated” immigrants - 100,000 of whom had had their asylum applications rejected. And another 37,020 “tolerated” immigrants were allowed to stay because they lacked travel documents.
What happens when asylum is rejected
Even if someone has their asylum application rejected, the government may still recognize that there is another reason to protect them inside the country.
Asylum seekers who have their applications rejected may appeal their decisions, all the way up to the European Court of Human Rights, which can take months.
Another option if someone has their asylum application turned down is that they may receive “subsidiary protection” from deportation if they do not meet the requirements for gaining refugee or asylum status, according to the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF).
“There may be reasons that prevent him or her from being deported. These include the threat of the death penalty, torture, inhumane or degrading treatment or other existential threats - meaning that the foreign national is to be regarded as vulnerable,” the BAMF website states.
If someone is not granted refugee protection, asylum or subsidiary protection, they may also be granted a ban on deportation. This is issued in the case where a “foreigner faces a substantial concrete danger or an extreme general danger on return to the destination state,” including poor health care if they are ill, BAMF states.
“Protection against deportation... is asserted in particular (but not exhaustively) if for instance the danger of a considerable worsening of an existing illness is likely because of inadequate medical treatment in the destination state, or if such treatment is not available at all.”
If someone is not granted any of these protections, BAMF then issues a request for the person to leave Germany with a deportation notice. They are then given a week to 30 days to leave, depending on the reason for deportation. BAMF also notifies the country of origin and it then becomes the responsibility of the German state where the asylum applicant resides to enforce the deportation.
But Germany has struggled with getting people to leave voluntarily and for countries to take them back.
In February, Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière urged Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia to speed up their process of taking back their citizens whose asylum applications had been rejected in Germany. These countries had been refusing or delaying the processing of taking people back because they were missing identification documents.
It was also reported in February that Germany was paying refugees to go back home, covering travel costs and even sometimes giving them cash for when they return.
Push for swifter deportations
Conservative politicians from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and sister party CSU (Christian Social Union) have continued to push for swifter deportation processes for rejected asylum seekers.
In response to Bild’s report, chair of the CDU/CSU Union in German parliament Hans-Peter Friedrich called for a reform of the deportation laws.
“Whoever allows rejected asylum seekers to dance circles around the state is destroying the people’s trust in the capabilities of the government,” Friedrich told Bild.
“The laws urgently need to be changed.”