Stop the Deportation Center at BER Airport!

Brandenburg has announced plans for the construction of a new deportation center at BER airport, including pre-deportation detention facilities with a capacity to imprison 120 people. Construction is planned to start this year and aims to be completed in 2025. A new alliance has formed “Abschiebezentrum BER verhindern” that will organise to put a stop to these plans. A first demonstration is taking place on Wednesday, 9 February in Schönefeld to raise pressure on local politicians while they discuss construction plans during Schönefeld’s municipality meeting.

In August 2021, the ministry of interior of Brandenburg announced plans to build what they called an "entry and exit center at BER airport" in Schönefeld. The construction on an area of 4 hectares will comprise buildings for arrival, transit, custody and deportation. At the BER airport, there already exist facilities for deportation-related detention in "Ausreisegewahrsam Schönefeld" where up to 20 people can be detained for up to 48 hours before deportation. The new deportation center would therefore massively expand detention capacity. The center is planned to be build on the terrain exactly north of the current Ausreisegewahrsam.

According to Alexis Martel, spokesperson from the alliance Abschiebezentrum BER verhindern, “any kind of deportation and imprisonment is a violent and fundamentally racist act that people in power are trying to normalize, invisibilize or euphemize. By being forced to obtain visas and residence permits, being forced into refugee camps and asylum procedures, Black people and people of colour are systematically deprived of a self-determined life and a free choice of where to move and live. Therefore, we will resist this new center and any detention or deportation of people”.

The new prison will not only include a place for "departure custody" (which basically means imprisonment for the sake of deportation for a maximum of ten days and is legally defined in § 62b AufenthG). It will also contain a transit building where at least two other forms of imprisonment will take place. First, people who ask for asylum when they arrive at BER airport will be detained for an unfair fast-track asylum process without any access to independent legal counseling or support (this is legally defined in § 18a I AsylG). Through this airport asylum procedure whole families including children can be legally detained for weeks. Secondly, people can be detained in the transit building when they arrive via airplane and are denied entry before even accessing German territory and claiming their right to asylum (this is legally defined in § 15 VI AufenthG).

So far, the planning process was highly intransparent and undemocratic: Brandenburg parliament has been side-stepped in planning this project. It is currently assumed that Brandenburg will ask a private investor to take on construction of this center and only after completion, Brandenburg will rent the terrain. In this way, it is avoided to ask parliament for budget allocation.

After construction of BER airport, the old Schönefeld airport has become BER terminal 5 and since has mostly been used for the purpose of mass-deportation charterflights. Alexis Martel claims that “the name Schönefeld is already heavily connected with deportations at the moment. Almost every week, a mass-deportation charterflight is leaving from Schönefeld airport. A new deportation center would be the last drop in making Schönefeld nationally known as deportation town”.

The alliance Abschiebezentrum BER verhindern is clear: “We will not accept a deportation center at BER airport and will rally against it until their plans are canceled!”

Press Contact
Alexis Martel (spokesperson alliance Abschiebezentrum BER verhindern)
Mustafa Hussien (Flüchtlingsrat Brandenburg)
hussien@fluechtlingsrat-brandenburg.de // telnr?

Further info:

Flüchtlingsrat Brandenburg kritisiert geplantes Vorzeige-Abschiebe-Zentrum am BER: https://www.fluechtlingsrat-brandenburg.de/fluechtlingsrat-brandenburg-kritisiert-geplantes-vorzeige-abschiebe-zentrum-am-ber/

Bundesministerium des Innern und für Heimat Pressemitteilung: https://www.bmi.bund.de/SharedDocs/pressemitteilungen/DE/2021/10/ber-ein-ausreisezentrum.html
Demonstration in Schönefeld 09.02.2022: https://noborderassembly.blackblogs.org/de/abschiebezentrum-ber-verhindern/

Kleine Anfrage Nr. 1561 (Landtag Brandenburg): https://www.parlamentsdokumentation.brandenburg.de/starweb/LBB/ELVIS/parladoku/w7/drs/ab_4300/4377.pdf