Why do over 400,000 migrants in Germany have their birthday on January 1st?

By John Cody
6 Min Read

For more than 400,000 Germany’s immigrants, Jan. 1 is marked as their birthday in the Central Register of Foreign Nationals, with the majority of this group coming from Syria, Turkey, and Afghanistan, according to data obtained by the immigration restrictionist Alternative for Germany (AfD) party.

According to the data from the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF), a quarter of the 416,420 migrants born on January 1 entered Germany in 2015, another 116,000 afterwards, and the rest of them before. AfD MP René Springer, who originally requested the information, has since released it to the public.

Jan. 1 was also marked as a birthday of the 13 of the 47 recently admitted minors from the Greek migrant camps who were allowed to enter Germany during the coronavirus crisis.

So why is Jan. 1 such a popular date for migrant birthdays?

Simply put, it is the date Germany lists on official documents for those migrants who apply for asylum without an ID and who do not know or refuse to say when their date of birth is.

For many of these migrants, their status as a minor greatly depended entirely on them telling German authorities that they did not know their birth date. Many of them applied without identification or government documents, leaving them free to claim they were a minor.

Over half of all asylum seekers (54 percent) have no papers but most have a cell phone. According to the Federal Ministry of the Interior, one in two asylum seekers (49 percent) over the age of 18 could not identify themselves in 2019.

Many migrants lie about their age in Germany

The AfD party is raising concerns about the prevalence of migrants who have an unknown birth date.

“One thing is certain: With over 400,000 migrants, no reliable information can be given about the actual age. For Germans, the birthday is a key date. It determines the age for a driver’s license, for retirement, military eligibility, child benefits, and work capacity,” the AfD wrote in a statement.

AfD contends that a migrant minor costs the German taxpayer thousands of euros every month, which is not the case for a young adult over 18, as adults are eligible for far fewer benefits.

The party also brought up the point that deportation in the case of a migrant minor is also far less likely, which provides further incentives for migrants to lie about their age. As a result, the AfD is demanding authorities determine the age of migrant minors using a test.

“The real age can be determined immediately with a medical test — not to the day — but at least to the year. Anyone who refuses to submit to such a test is making it clear that they do not want to stay in Germany, and such a wish should then be granted as quickly as possible,” the AfD party writes.

Concerns have been raised in the past that migrants have lied about their age in order to gain entry into Europe. For example, an incredible 84 percent of “child migrants” tested by Swedish health authorities were actually adults aged 18 or older, according to a report from the BBC.

According to a study by the Institute of Forensic Medicine in Münster, a large proportion of underage immigrants lied about their age. The university clinic’s forensic specialists examined around 600 so-called unaccompanied minor refugees on behalf of the courts where their age was questioned. The institute determined that around 40 percent of them were demonstrably 18 years of age or older, according to the study available online.

It is common for some Middle Eastern countries to not record birth dates. “The acquisition of personal data requires the exact date of birth, but not all countries and cultures record days and months of birth,” the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees explained.

But Islamic studies expert Susanne Schröter assumes that most immigrants know their birthday very well but do not specify it for pragmatic reasons. Since minor migrants are “privileged in many ways over adults,” it is therefore convenient for migrants to conceal when they were born and “appear younger than you actually are.”

Title image: Unaccompanied migrant minors, wearing face masks to help stop the spread of the coronavirus, wave as they board an airplane bound for Germany at the Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport in Athens, on Saturday, April 18, 2020. Fifty asylum-seeking minors were relocated to Hanover as part of a migrant relocation plan agreed by a group of European Union countries. (AP Photo/Yorgos Karahalis)

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