Olaf Scholz pushes German immigration office to digitise services
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has urged the country’s immigration office (Ausländerbehörde) to digitise its services in the interest of efficiency.
German government urges Ausländerbehörde to go digital
Among migrants to Germany the Ausländerbehörde is known for its painstakingly slow, paper-heavy administrative services. Now, in a meeting on June 15 between Olaf Scholz and leaders of Germany’s 16 federal states, the chancellor said that the dearth of digital processing methods means it is difficult to track and control immigration.
Speaking at the meeting, Scholz said that it is a “statistical truth” that two-thirds of immigration offices in Germany are not digitalised and that something has to be done to make sure the system keeps up with the times.
The SPD chancellor acknowledged that the process would be a mammoth task that would involve nationwide political cooperation from state governments. “This is a gigantic modernisation task that would involve investment and lots and lots of work.”
One reason for Scholz’s new enthusiasm for digitisation may be the weaknesses in the German immigration administrative system that were revealed when the country took in 1,2 million Ukrainian refugees in 2022, as many local services found themselves struggling to cope with piles of paperwork.
Federal government grants billions to state refugee support
Another shortcoming of the German immigration system that Scholz’s federal government is reckoning with is how funding for refugees is distributed across the states.
Since Ukrainian refugees started to arrive in early 2022, some states have been providing more support than others. In many cases, the number of arrivals depends on the geographical location of each federal state.
Cottbus for example, a small city in the smallish state of Brandenburg which lies close to the Polish border, took in a large number of refugees in comparison to bigger cities in the country's largest state, North Rhine-Westphalia. However, since refugee funding from the federal government is distributed based on a state’s population and tax revenue, money doesn’t always go where it is needed most.
The government is yet to answer states’ calls to properly remedy these funding inequalities, but in May, the government did announce that it would give each state an additional 1 billion euros to help refugees.
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