Jan Hiller no longer understands the world. The owner of the Gasthof Adler in Ziemetshausen near Augsburg has been looking for employees for months. The two of them are currently standing in the kitchen, where there should actually be six. Sometimes he washes the dishes himself until late at night. In October, however, there was a ray of hope: “Then this friendly, nice, well-groomed Afghan woman came into our restaurant and asked if she could start an apprenticeship with us.”
Hiller didn’t need much persuasion. The 21-year-old Madina A. spoke fluent English and quite good German. She had trained as an air traffic controller in Kabul. After a day of getting to know each other, Hiller offered her an apprenticeship contract. In December they submitted it to the immigration authorities. But the young woman was not allowed to start in the inn.
Instead, on Monday morning she was accompanied by two police officers on a Flixbus heading to Hungary, where she and her family are to be deported. Basically, there is no doubt that the family needs protection. The father worked for NATO in Afghanistan. After the Taliban took power, it became life-threatening for the family there. However, since they entered Hungary via Hungary, Hungary is responsible for their asylum process. They should go back there. Since the father was not found during the attempted deportation, the police sent the young woman on her journey alone.
What remained was a restaurateur who doesn’t know who should serve his guests. And a federal government that is trying with a lot of effort to attract skilled workers from abroad. “It’s so crazy,” says Hiller.
It got even crazier in the afternoon: because the young woman was allowed to turn back somewhere near Nuremberg. A court had stopped the deportation at the request of her lawyer: Due to systemic deficiencies in the Hungarian asylum system, deportations are currently not allowed there. The officials who were supposed to accompany the young woman across the border brought her back to Munich in a police car.
Entrepreneurs criticize such deportations as inhuman and incomprehensible
All’s well that ends well? Far from it, thinks Monika Sanou from the Bavarian Entrepreneurs’ Initiative. It is inhuman and incomprehensible to carry out such deportations at all. A young woman is being separated from her family without need and a restaurant business is being run by a promising employee. There is an incredible shortage of workers in restaurants and hotels. The entrepreneurial initiative has been working since 2019 to ensure that refugees who have found employment or training are allowed to stay.
In fact, there are definitely opportunities for refugees to switch from asylum to labor migration. If refugees manage to start an apprenticeship while their asylum procedure is still ongoing, they are usually allowed to complete it. After that, they have a good chance of being allowed to stay in the country.
With the Opportunity Residence Act, the federal government has also created a kind of old case regulation for refugees from the large flight movement of 2015/16. Anyone who came back then and is still living in Germany as a rejected refugee has one year to clarify passport issues and look for a job – and can thus fight for a right to stay.
The deportation was already under way when the training offer came
But neither rule helped the young Afghan. She was too short in the country for the old case regulation and she had had an apprenticeship offer since December. The central foreigners authority was apparently already planning deportation and therefore refused to tolerate the young woman for the duration of her training in Germany.
She’s fed up with reading articles about the shortage of skilled workers, says Josefine Steiger, when at the same time Germany treats foreigners willing to work so badly in the country. The now retired head of the education department at the Swabian Chamber of Industry and Commerce has been campaigning for years to get refugees in Germany to receive training. In order to prevent her protégés from being deported, she has even traveled back to their home country with some of them in order to apply for a legal work permit from there.
It was also Steiger who stood up for the Afghan until the end. “I’m overjoyed that she’s back in Munich,” says Steiger. The young woman is unusually fit, taught herself German at B2 level in just 14 months and found an apprenticeship position on her own. Former Chamber of Industry and Commerce Mrs. Steiger believes that Germany simply cannot allow itself to kick out such people. She will now fight to ensure that Madina A. can also begin her training.