Handelsblatt Interview

The Race to Process Asylum Seekers

  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    How Germany’s migration agency handles both integration and deportation could be become a political issue, effecting national elections in September.

  • Facts


    • Since taking over as head of Germany’s Federal Office for Migration and Refugees this January, Jutta Cordt has been faced with an enormous backlog of applications for political asylum.
    • Some 435,000 applications for asylum have been carried over from last year; more than a million refugees entered Germany in the 2015 and 2016.
    • The  Federal Office for Migration and Refugees currently employs some 9,000 people.
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Jutta Cordt / BAMF
Germany's head of the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees, Jutta Cordt, has her work cut out for her. Photo: Alex Kraus for Handelsblatt

In an old Nazi army barrack, a stone’s throw from the former Nazi Party Rally Grounds in Nuremburg, every inch of space is being used to process applications for political asylum.

Even in the large conference room, which still bears a swastika in its marble floor, employees of the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees sit bunched together processing the claims. In an adjacent hallway, the newly appointed head of the agency, Jutta Cordt, sits in a spartanly decorated office. She has priorities, she explains, and right now, hanging pictures isn’t one of them.

Ms. Cordt has succeeded Frank-Jürgen Weise, who decided in May of 2016 to step down from the agency’s top position by the beginning of the year. Even prior to the refugee crisis in 2015, the agency, known by its German acronym BAMF, had been criticized for dragging its feet when it came to processing asylum applications – in some instances taking up to two years to do so.

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