It was at the beginning of December when the conflict in the Union faction became apparent: At that time, a large part of the Union faction voted against the traffic light’s so-called Opportunity Residence Act. It is intended to give more than 100,000 rejected asylum seekers the opportunity to acquire the prerequisites for permanent residence in Germany. However, 20 Union MPs abstained – because they were able to gain a lot from the traffic light project. Including ex-CDU leader Armin Laschet.
The incident also sparked debates in the Union faction weeks later. On Tuesday evening, the CDU and CSU wanted to discuss the topic. Scheduled: an “open-ended meeting”.
“How do you organize dealing with people who are no longer asylum seekers because they have received a rejected decision, but are still in Germany?” – this is how the parliamentary manager of the Union faction, Thorsten Frei, summarized the question in advance. Should they have the chance to integrate into the job market? This “lane change” is viewed extremely critically by many in the Union. Frei said he himself had “greatest concerns” about “devaluating” the asylum decision.
Tension between humanity and order
The head of the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees, Hans-Eckhard Sommer, the migration researcher Daniel Thym and Bernd Raffelhüschen, an expert on social policy, were invited to the discussion.
Behind the dispute over factual issues such as the lane change is a larger conflict – the struggle “in the field of tension between order and humanity”, as a parliamentary group man puts it. The debate also dealt with very practical questions: How do you deal with asylum seekers who are already working in a company and are then rejected?
“The biggest difference we have isn’t in the matter, but in the tone,” says one from the parliamentary group. This also became clear after CDU leader Friedrich Merz recently spoke of “little pashas” in relation to young people of Arab origin. In an interview with the Tagesspiegel, Schleswig-Holstein’s Prime Minister Daniel Günther then warned his party to be sensitive and outlined a “middle course”.
Like the minority in the parliamentary group, Günther can gain a lot from the traffic light’s Opportunity Residence Act. “I perceive a lack of understanding among many voters close to us as to why the Union does not support this course,” he said.
But the parliamentary group meeting on Tuesday evening brought little clarification. “It was more of an information event,” says a CDU man as he leaves. The discussion was “objective and constructive”, it is said afterwards. No major clashes, but also little clarification.
However, the appointment was only the prelude to several such talks: dual citizenship and the immigration of skilled workers will soon also be discussed. The Union hopes for a common line.
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