Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Schönborn calls for immigration law reform

Viennese Archbishop Christoph Cardinal Schönborn has appealed to the Austrian government to reform the current immigration laws.

The highest-ranking representative of the Roman Catholic Church in Austria said: "It is not acceptable that families, who are fully integrated, who don’t financially burden anyone else, whose children know no other language than German with an Austrian dialect, are being taken out of the personal environment they are used to."

Schönborn referred to several highly controversial deportations which have dominated the headlines recently.

"People who are well integrated and who have been living in Austria without breaking the law here should be allowed to stay," he suggested, adding that Austria was "in need of good immigration policies".

The archbishop stressed children must not be put be put behind bars awaiting their deportation regardless of what their documents say.

Schönborn is not the only opinion leader criticising the way the government coalition – which is formed by the Social Democrats (SPÖ) and the People’s Party (ÖVP) – handles immigration issues.

Liberal Forum (LiF) founder Heide Schmidt said recently: "It’s just disgusting that they keep referring to strict immigration laws when deporting integrated people – laws they passed themselves some years ago."

NGOs supporting asylum seekers and refugees have voiced similar accusations.

Asked for his opinion of the 2011 budget, Schönborn criticised the government’s decision to cut family subsidies.

He said: "The Church should not comment on day to day politics. But as a citizen I’m asking myself whether it’s a good idea to spend less on families. Everyone complains there are too few children. Nevertheless, families are affected most by the announced cuts." 

SIC: AI/EU

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