Migrants’ Fate a Game of Chance


Looking at the refugee crisis from afar, it is difficult to form any opinion.
“Because the deportation of rejected asylum-seekers from Germany is the responsibility of the states, a highly arbitrary system not unlike a lottery. For the close to a half-million people expected to receive orders to be deported this year, whether they must leave or not may depend on where they live.”

Men like Rahmat Khan. The young Afghan fled to Germany in 2010. He claimed that the Taliban had murdered his father, but the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) didn’t believe him and rejected his application for asylum. Since then, Khan’s residency in Germany has been tolerated by the government. He found an apartment, he learned German, got involved in a Catholic youth group and began working as a mason for a construction company in the town of Essenbach. “A gift from heaven” is how his boss Thomas Monzel describes him. “All it would take for a German trainee to call in sick was a sore muscle, but he even came to work when he had the flu.”

Now Monzel has lost one of his best employees. The company hired a lawyer for Khan, begged the authorities to extend his work permit, wrote a letter to the Chancellery and submitted a petition to the state legislature, but nothing helped. On Dec. 14, police rang Khan’s doorbell at 5 a.m., waking him up, and put him in a bus to the Frankfurt Airport, where a chartered jet took off for Afghanistan. Now Khan calls his former employer every Friday. “If you help me get back, I will work twice as much,” he tells the company. But there’s nothing Monzel can do.

If Khan hadn’t ended up in Landshut in Bavaria when he came to Germany and had instead arrived 800 kilometers further north, he would still be living in Germany today.

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