The Asylbewerberleistungsgesetz and its everyday consequences
Georg Classen, Refugee Council Berlin (Flüchtlingsrat Berlin), refers the historical background and current developments regarding the AsylbLG
Women in Exile, report on the impacts of AsylbLG on living conditions of refugees as well as possible resistance strategies
Since the introduction of the Asylbewerberleistungsgesetz (short AsylbLG: benefits for asylum seekers act) in 1993, the official purpose of the German refugee policy has been to discourage refugees from asylum applications in Germany.
The law dictates, that asylum seekers have to predominantly receive noncash benefits. Therefore, the currently more than 120 000 affected persons have to live under degrading circumstances in isolated refugee homes and detention camps instead of apartments, they receive standardized food packets and restricted shopping vouchers instead of money in cash. Besides, the AsylbLG regulates the medical care for refugees and restricts it to only acute and life-threatening illnesses. In addition, asylum seekers are subjects to a factual ban on work as well as to an obligation of residence, namely the prohibition to leave a certain assigned area. In combining all these debasing regulations the AsylbLG additionally constitutes an exclusionary wall of closure and separation.
Not only has the amount of benefits for refugees, which have been installed to allegedly ensure a dignified subsistence, always been considerably lower than the amount of other social benefits in Germany, it also has not been raised since the installation of the law in 1993!
It was only in 2012 that the German Federal Constitutional Court acknowledged the amount of benefits as inadequate and ordered the government to recalculate its basis. However, the voucher system as such has not been criticized at all in this regard.
This discriminating practices consistently evoke different forms of protests which manage to succeed in at least small improvements of the situation. As a consequence of those protests, but also because it is actually simply cheaper, some federal states as for example Berlin have already abandoned the voucher system and provide cash.
But at the same time more and more people are being affected by the remaining regulations of this law for even increasing periods of time. 20 years after the installation of the law the government and certain parts of society still agree on the legitimacy of the deterrent effect of the AsylbLG.
The upcoming event is meant to inform about how the AsylbLG effects the lives of refugees, but also to show possible resistance strategies and hopefully it can motivate to take action.
This event is one part in the series of events
“20th anniversary of the abolition of the right to asylum.
20 years of exclusion, deprivation of rights, deportation.
It has gone on for too long – Cut it out!”
hosted by the Initiative against the chipcard system