The Austrian government plans to require asylum seekers to do community service work during their asylum process. Those who refuse could lose their basic services as a consequence.
This step, which is intended to be in line with EU law, is part of a comprehensive tightening of refugee policy in Austria. According to a report, these include “World” increased deportations, faster asylum procedures and more intensive border protection.
The measures taken have already led to a 40 percent decline in asylum applications in the Alpine republic in the first eight months of this year.
Integration should be made easier through measures
The planned obligation to do charitable work would be a drastic tightening of current practice in Austria. Until now, asylum seekers have been able to voluntarily carry out charitable activities and receive a small amount of financial support for this.
According to “Welt”, what is now new is that this work should become compulsory and could also be extended to non-profit organizations or sports clubs. The aim is to promote a regular daily routine and contact with locals, which should make integration easier.
Migration researchers reject the measure
However, there is also criticism of this measure. According to “Welt”, some migration researchers and the Greens in Upper Austria reject the obligation to work and instead advocate opening the regular labor market for asylum seekers.
The migration researcher Judith Kohlenberger said in ORF expressed their concerns about the measure and emphasized that coercion was not the appropriate instrument in this context. She pointed out that there is already a willingness to work, but high barriers make access to the labor market difficult.
Discussions about possible sanctions
The implementation of the proposed law in Austria is accompanied by the question of how asylum seekers can be sanctioned if they refuse charitable work.
A complete removal of basic services could be legally problematic. On the other hand, a work obligation without sanctions in case of rejection makes little sense.
Impact on Germany
Austria’s decision could also have an impact on Germany and further fuel the debate about the integration of asylum seekers and refugee policy as a whole.
In Germany there are also isolated calls for asylum seekers to be required to work. However, the governing parties in Germany are pursuing other approaches such as the “opportunity residence law” and “changing lanes” to promote integration.