“They are afraid that their residence status will be changed or that they could be threatened with deportation,” Marc Millies from the Bremen Refugee Council said on Friday.
The Federal Office for Immigration and Refugees (BAMF) wants to reassess 18,000 decisions made by their Bremen office, after prosecutors started an investigation into claims that employees there took bribes in return for granting asylum.
Prosecutors suspect that more than 1,200 people were granted asylum between 2013 and 2016 who did not have actual grounds for being offered protection.
Bertold Reetz, an employee at Inneren Mission, an organization that runs nine refugee homes in Germany’s smallest state, also called for the presumption of innocence to be applied to refugees there.
“Of course this case needs to be investigated. It is important that the BAMF follows correct procedures,” he said, before adding that the sweeping reassessments “are a little bit like placing everyone under suspicion of a crime.”
In view of the scandal, the Interior Ministry has placed a moratorium on any new asylum decision being taken in Bremen.
But Reetz described this as “crazy”, saying that this decision would only lead to overcrowding in the refugee homes. He pointed out that no migrants are allowed to leave the refugee homes and find normal housing before a final decision on their status has been made.
Millies from the Refugee Council also stressed that the Interior Ministry's decision could slow down integration in the city.
“Language courses and school visits will be delayed through this,” he said.