Report. The goal is to process 20,000 citizenship applications per year and to speed up residence permits. The red-red-green district government wants to ‘transform Berlin into an international cosmopolitan metropolis.’

Under leftist government, Berlin wants to become a ‘City of Refuge’

The Berlin government plans to process 7,000 to 20,000 citizenship applications per year, speed up residence permits and above all transform the capital into a “City of Refuge” for refugees of any kind and origin.

Such is the revolutionary social program of the nascent red-red-green junta running the German capital, which comprises the new mayor-governor Franziska Giffey from SPD, the leader of the Greens Bettina Jarasch and the deputy Katina Schuber from the Linke have agreed on.

“At least 400,000 people have come to live in Berlin in recent years, yet most of them still don’t have German passports. So far, each district has decided on its own, but from now on we want the paperwork to be handled at the Land level with accelerated and simplified procedures. Those who apply for citizenship should receive an answer within three months at the latest,” summarized Giffey.

The objective is “to transform Berlin into an international cosmopolitan metropolis,” as stated in the draft coalition agreement between the SPD, the Greens and the Linke, which also includes the strengthening of language services, such as the indispensable presence of translators.

It applies to foreigners present in the city, but especially to the immigrants and refugees expected with the new wave of refugees from Afghanistan, which SPD, the Greens and die Linke no longer want to confine to the Containerdorf (the temporary reception centers consisting of containers scattered around Berlin’s neighborhoods).

“We are working to make sure that people are able to live in real housing as soon as possible. Our plan is based on more apartments and less accommodation in communal facilities,” confirms Jarasch, ready to lay out the new government’s guidelines on how to “make the best use of the current right of residence and finally open up real prospects for reception.” In other words, from the legal point of view, the red-green junta envisions extending the state program tailored to welcome Syrian and Iraqi refugees to the new refugees from Afghanistan.

Currently, the plan, coordinated with UNHCR, is based on an annual quota of 100 “needy” persons, but this will have to be increased “so that Berlin can make its active contribution to resolving the world’s problematic situations,” as the three leading political figures of the new “Red” City Council explain.

This also involves the “fast and unhindered issue of residence permits for those with a migration background,” adds Schubert, emphasizing the clear paradigm shift compared to the recent past: “We must avoid separating families by preventing the resumption of repatriations, i.e. people being picked up from schools and hospitals and deported under the cover of night.”

After all, the idea of Berlin as a safe haven for immigrants is in line with the ethnic make-up of the city. Out of 3.7 million inhabitants, over 1.3 million are of foreign origin. Of these, only 543,000 have passports issued by the Bundesrepublik.

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