In 2016, only 2,028 failed asylum seekers and illegal immigrants were deported from the German capital, 80 per cent of which came from the Balkans. This year, migrants from the Balkans still lead in deportations as the Berlin government has largely refused to deport migrants from North Africa and Afghanistan, Berliner Morgenpost reports.
So far this year, the largest group of people deported by the Berlin government came from the Eastern European nation of Moldova (562), the poorest country in Europe where as many as 25,000 people become victims of human trafficking gangs each year. Other deported migrants come from the Balkan nations of Albania (59), Serbia (45), and Kosovo (36).
510 migrants have left the capital city voluntarily from January to April of this year, most of them from Moldova, as the government gives them financial assistance for returning to their native country.
The number of migrants who have either been deemed to be staying in the country illegally or have failed their asylum claim has increased steadily in Berlin. Estimates in March of this year say there are at least 11,417 people who are supposed to leave the country.
Hakan Taş, a member of the Left Party, or Die Linke, said “every deportation is too many”, and that the government in Berlin should look exclusively at voluntary exits from the country.
The German federal government has been trying to increase the number of deportations of Afghan nationals for the last several months, but the left wing coalition in Berlin is against the move. The Berlin government is joined by several other left wing regional governments who have worked to undermine the deportation policies of Chancellor Angela Merkel.
One criticism of the deportation policy stems from the cost of repatriating North Africans, with many countries in the region refusing to take back their citizens.
The issue came to the forefront in December after it was revealed the Berlin Christmas market terror attacker Anis Amri had been a failed asylum seeker from Tunisia.
Amri lived in Berlin and was known to police as being part of the drug scene in the city as well as being connected to radical Islamic Salafists. Armed with the information, authorities could have deported Amri before he ever had the chance to carry out his terror attack which killed 12 and injured over 50 others. Several police officers are now under investigation over the matter.