An administrative act which temporary suspends the deportation of a third country national. In case deportation cannot be enforced due to a legal or factual obstacle, German immigration authorities will “tolerate” (Dulden) the foreigner’s presence until the obstacle disappears and the DULDUNG expires. The obstacle can be e.g. the lack of travel documents, sickness, parenthood, closed travel routes or a crisis situation in the country of origin. DULDUNG is not a residence permit, the stay is unlawful (unrechtmäßig) and the foreigner remains enforceably AUSREISEPFLICHTIG. The foreigners’ authorities use DULDUNG as if it were a substitute permit and periodically renew it, even if it in fact entails a continued exclusion from legal residence and from basic social rights.
Depending on the type of DULDUNG, the paper has to be renewed by the foreigners’ authority every certain period, in case the obstacle for deportation persists: a week, month, or up to a year. Renewal leads to KettenDULDUNG, a prolonged, permanently precarious stay in Germany without basic rights: 5 years, 10, 20 or a lifetime on DULDUNG. This problem began with the establishment of DULDUNG in the first West German aliens law in 1965 (Ausländergesetz). In the 1990s KettenDULDUNG grew due to the massive use of DULDUNG in the management of the influx of asylum seekers to Germany in the beginning of the decade.
According to legal understanding, DULDUNG is a mere administrative measure and “tolerated“ residence is a limit case: not lawful but also not sanctioned. In practice diverse sanctions are imposed and „tolerated“ persons experience DULDUNG itself as a punishment. Depending on the case, DULDUNG means the deprivation or limitation of basic rights, such as the free mobility within the country (RESIDENZFPLICHT*), the right to work, to study, to social security or to choose one’s place of living. The foreigners’ authority uses these to push the „tolerated“ to leave the country, and to punish the group of “tolerated” whom it judges „guilty“ of evading deportation. “Tolerated” persons are accused of hiding their identity, destroying national identification documents and obstructing attempts to acquire valid travel documentation for deportation from the country embassy (see MOBILE EMBASSY HEARING*, MITWIRKUNGSPFLICHT*.)
Attempts to solve the problem of KettenDULDUNG, by granting longterm „tolerated“ residency permits, have failed, merely paying lip service to the idea of regularisation. The successive legal reforms since early 2000s have continued the divide between the „good tolerated“ and the „bad tolerated”. Relying on the MITWIRKUNGPFLICHT* criteria, the “bad” ones have been ever harder criminalised for being themselves „guilty“ of remaining in Germany. Also the criminal provisions in § 95 Aufenthaltsgesetz are used to penalise the „tolerated“ and to refuse them for good the possibility to attain legal residence Germany (see AUSWEISUNG*, CRIMMIGRATION*). Parliamentary or media debates around the reforms have rarely acknowledged, that hiding one’s real identity is for many third country nationals the only way to enter and stay in Germany (see Yusupha Jarboh and Joseph Koroma).
Debates on ending KettenDULDUNG have centered on asylum and the rights of rejected asylum applicants. But rejected asylum application is not the only way to end up on DULDUNG. According to the Central Register of Foreigners only 69.000 of the 153.000 persons with a DULDUNG in Germany in the end of 2016 were rejected asylum seekers. There is not much data available on who the rest of the “tolerated” are, but presumably people in different situations who could not be deported despite an order: third country nationals who have received an AUSWEISUNG* after a criminal conviction, or who have separated from their spouses and lost their residency right, students who could not renew their visa, visa-overstayers who were caught, persons still waiting to be able to apply for asylum (a DULDUNG is sometimes issued in this case).
In relation to asylum as a status, the DULDUNG status has historically been in the Federal Republic of Germany much more important. Even if not reducible to asylum (see above), DULDUNG has formed asylum’s constitutive underside of sorts. The famous cold war refugees from socialist countries were mostly only „tolerated“ in the postwar West Germany, so were the much more numerous groups of refugees of the Yugoslavian breakup in the 1990s. Until the 1982 legal change DULDUNG was in fact the status of all asylum seekers in Germany, in processes often lasting many years. The early 1990s “refugee crisis” was managed with exponentially more DULDUNG, after the 1993 asylum law restriction following the rising numbers of asylum applicants in Germany in the wake of the Yugoslavian break‐up and global crises. In 1994 there were nearly 1 million persons with some kind of DULDUNG in Germany, in 1997 still more than 300.000. During this time many of the “tolerated” worked in the reconstruction of the reunified Germany. End of the decade work prohibitions were reintroduced. In stead of questioning the use of the DULDUNG, the government increased the pressure on the „tolerated“ and their criminalisation until they would leave the country (see AG RÜCKFÜHRUNG*, MITWIRKUNGSPFLICHT*).
More info: Rex Osa, Kay Wendel, Salomon Wantchoucou, Fadi Abdel Ghani, Mobile hearing in Dortmund, Alex Nuhu Banja, Kettenduldung.