Austria deports refused refugees in training and education

Refugees in Austria who are refused asylum are rigorously deported, even if they are halfway through their training or education. [Magsi/ Shutterstock]

When refugees in Austria are refused asylum, they are being deported even when they are in training or education. The rigorous repatriation policy by the Austrian interior minister could lead to intense discussion, as there are objections to it from industry. EURACTIV Germany reports.

As recently as last summer, the Austrian government announced that young asylum-seekers who are refused asylum could still finish their training or education in Austria. But shortly afterwards, it was announced instead that they would be deported immediately. This could affect around two-thirds of the 1,043 young asylum-seekers who are in training or education.

Only the courts can grant “residence on humanitarian grounds,” with the basis for this decision provided by the Austrian interior minister. “Every special arrangement for learners which includes the guaranteed right to stay until the end of their training would be a precedent that would result in further calls for exceptions,” an internal working paper said.

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After this decision had become known, there was considerable opposition from the public. This was particularly true of industry, which complains about the lack of skilled workers in many sectors and points to very positive experiences with young refugees in training or education.

Moreover, there is, above all, the argument that there is no point in pulling these young people away from their work in the middle of their courses and sending them back to their home countries.

It would make more sense to allow these refugees to complete their training so that they would have the opportunity to start a new livelihood in their home countries with the knowledge they have gained in Austria. In other words, it would be development aid in practice, an area which needs fresh impetus anyway.

Problematic from humane and economic points of view

The discussion over the campaign “Ausbilden statt Abschieben” (Training rather than deportation), which has been running for some time and has calmed down only recently, could soon spark again.

The next few weeks could be crucial for almost 700 refugees who were refused asylum at the court of first instance and could therefore soon be deported.

Green regional minister of Upper Austria, Rudi Anschober, appealed to Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, saying that “it’s now the eleventh hour on this important issue.” He called on Kurz to make this a top-level priority.

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The argument goes that this deportation practice was problematic not only from a humane but also from an economic point of view.

A study by economist Friedrich Schneider has shown that deporting these learners also causes economic damage. The Austrian state supposedly loses around €100,000 for each deported learner.

Furthermore, many of these asylum-seekers are needed in professions with worker shortages. Anschober highlighted the contradiction that “we’re looking internationally for potential skilled workers, while throwing out those who are already in training or education in the country.”

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