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Immigration Policy in the Federal Republic of Germany

Immigration Policy in the Federal Republic of Germany: Negotiating Membership and Remaking the Nation

Douglas B. Klusmeyer
Demetrios G. Papademetriou
Copyright Date: 2009
Edition: NED - New edition, 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 336
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  • Book Info
    Immigration Policy in the Federal Republic of Germany
    Book Description:

    German migration policy now stands at a major crossroad, caught between a fifty-year history of missed opportunities and serious new challenges. Focusing on these new challenges that German policy makers face, the authors, both internationally recognized in this field, use historical argument, theoretical analysis, and empirical evaluation to advance a more nuanced understanding of recent initiatives and the implications of these initiatives. Their approach combines both synthesis and original research in a presentation that is not only accessible to the general educated reader but also addresses the concerns of academic scholars and policy analysts. This important volume offers a comprehensive and critical examination of the history of German migration law and policy from the Federal Republic's inception in 1949 to the present.

    eISBN: 978-1-84545-969-7
    Subjects: Sociology, Political Science, History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Tables
    (pp. vii-vii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. viii-ix)
  5. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. x-xi)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. xii-xvi)

    Despite the reception of many millions of foreign-born persons since the late nineteenth century, the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) for most of its history has declared itself officially to be “not-an-immigration-land.”¹ In reality, nothing could have been further from the truth. Between 1950 and 1994, approximately 80 percent of the increase in the West German population resulted from migration. This proportion amounted to 12.9 million persons (Münz and Ulrich 1997:65–66). In 2006, the Federal Statistical Office, counting the second and third generations of immigrants in Germany, reported that nearly one-fifth (19 percent) of the population in Germany had...

  7. Part 1: Membership and the Basic Law

    • Chapter 1 The International Dimension
      (pp. 3-10)

      The drafters of the Basic Law inserted their catalogue of fundamental rights at the beginning of their document rather than the end, as the authors of the Weimar Constitution had done, to signify its paramount importance. Article 1 of the Basic Law provides,

      1) The dignity of man shall be inviolable. To respect and protect it shall be the duty of all state authority.

      2) The German people therefore acknowledge inviolable and inalienable human rights as the basis of every community, of peace and of justice in the world.

      3) The following basic rights shall bind the legislature, the executive...

    • Chapter 2 The Federalist Dimension
      (pp. 11-15)

      The restrictions on the Federal Republic’s external sovereignty and the openness of the Basic Law to transfer significant sovereign powers to supranational institutions have been only the most obvious expressions of the FRG’s “semi-sovereign” character. As Peter Katzenstein has argued most influentially, this character has also been reflected in the FRG’s internal organization of state power. In contrast to the traditional Hobbesian understanding of the sovereign as an absolute, indivisible, and monopolistic bearer of political authority, the internal sovereignty of the FRG is highly decentralized, with a strong system of checks and balances as well as a high degree of...

    • Chapter 3 The Civic/Political Dimension
      (pp. 16-18)

      Modern societies qualify as “liberal” to the extent that they guarantee their members a menu of basic liberties, such as freedom of conscience, freedom of speech, and freedom of association. The formal membership status of individuals is determined by the packages of rights and duties they hold in these societies. Rights afford fundamental protections and create legal conditions for agency through which individuals are able to participate more fully in the social, civic, economic, and political life of a society. The recognition of rights as vested in individual persons is also a chief means through which respect for human dignity...

    • Chapter 4 The Social Dimension
      (pp. 19-21)

      In his famous essay on citizenship, the British sociologist T. H. Marshall sought to justify the provision of social rights by linking their development with earlier established civic and political rights (Marshall 1950). He emphasized the ways that social rights complement civic and political rights, and that the combination of all three is essential for any one cluster of rights to be fully effective. Marshall depicted the emergence of these three clusters in different historical epochs as part of a common evolution toward a fully realized model of modern social-democratic citizenship. He viewed the broad extension of shared social rights...

    • Chapter 5 The Ethnonational Dimension
      (pp. 22-29)

      Alongside the international, federal, and social dimensions of membership, the Basic Law also affirms a strong national dimension. Depending upon how the latter is construed, the first three may stand sharply at odds with it. The international dimension attaches primacy to the dignity of the individual in a universal sense as a guiding constitutional norm. It also is reflected in the FRG’s aspiration to be a partner in broader, supranational associations. Supported by a rich historical legacy, the federal dimension creates a strong basis for a polycentric understanding of both membership and sovereignty. The social dimension conditions benefits on territorial...

    • Chapter 6 Debating Concepts of National Membership
      (pp. 30-36)

      Policy debates over the reception and the integration of immigrants are often driven less by disputes over “facts” than by rival conceptions of membership. Assumptions behind these conceptions determine how the facts are weighed and sorted. Discussions about national identity are often one of the clearest places to see these assumptions expressed in issues over the incorporation of newcomers, which invariably implicate different national self-understandings. To appreciate the significance of such assumptions in policy debates, we must consider carefully how national identity arguments are made and used in them. Here, we will focus on one of the most frequently used...

    • Chapter 7 Integration, National Identity, and the Quest for Homogeneity
      (pp. 37-50)

      The challenge of integration has been a continuous issue throughout the history of the Federal Republic of Germany. This challenge has taken on a myriad of forms: from the incorporation of the refugees and expellees in the 1950s, through the unification of the two German states, to the FRG’s active partnership in building an integrative European state system. This challenge has been no less fundamental or enduring where the FRG has been least successful in meeting it, namely, with respect to immigration. Its defensive approach to immigration—as a perceived threat to national cohesion and to the integration of foreigners...

  8. Part 2: Laying the Foundation for Managing Migration, 1949–1990

    • Chapter 8 The Descent of the Aussiedler and the Politics of the German Diaspora
      (pp. 53-75)

      The privileged admissions and reception granted to theAussiedlerwere emblematic of the ethnonational character of the FRG’s membership policies, but it is a mistake to explain this character simply as an intrinsic expression of the German national self-understanding. The original policies toward theAussiedlerarose from a particular set of circumstances and political choices. As these circumstances have changed, such as with reunification and the end of the Cold War, the choices and the policies have also changed, as illustrated by the more restrictive rules applied, since 1993, toward theSpätaussiedler. Moreover, the official image of theAussiedleras...

    • Chapter 9 The Federal Republic as German Homeland
      (pp. 76-85)

      The framers of the Basic Law were concerned with establishing the FRG as the sole sovereign representative of the German people whose overriding political goal was to restore national unity. This understanding would have significant implications for the FRG’s subsequent policies toward immigrants as well as toward external German minorities. It meant, in Arendt’s words, that the state was conceived as the “instrument of the nation,” so that the state would “recognize only ‘nationals’ as citizens, to grant full civil and political rights only to those who belonged to the national community” (Arendt 1979: 230). This idea of ‘national community’...

    • Chapter 10 A Tradition of Imported Labor
      (pp. 86-96)

      Despite the massive influx of refugees and expellees, the West German economic recovery proved so successful that, by the mid 1950s, there were regional labor shortages. From 1953 to 1960, German unemployment dropped from 1,259,000 or 7.5 percent to 214,300 or 1.2 percent (International Labour Office 1959: 17; Korte 1985: 31). To fill these labor shortages, the federal government embarked on a policy to recruit foreign workers on a temporary basis. The policy aimed to sustain economic growth while keeping inflation low. The government developed no comprehensive policy plan to guide the recruitment process, and there was little public debate...

    • Chapter 11 Between Retreat and Reform: Naturalization Laws and the Challenge of Integration
      (pp. 97-118)

      In contrast to an immigration model that explicitly links the admissions of foreigners to the prospect of acquiring permanent residence and eventually citizenship on a path to full membership, the FRG’s guestworker model had been predicated on the assumption that the number of foreign workers could be flexibly adjusted according to labor market needs and employers’ interests. The sharp decline in foreign workers during the 1966/67 recession seemed to vindicate this assumption. The model aimed to maximize the economic benefits of labor recruitment while minimizing the potential social costs by rotating foreign workers back to their homelands after temporary stays...

    • Chapter 12 Aliens Policy and the Federal Courts
      (pp. 119-125)

      “Judged by the principles of German foreigner law and policy alone,” Christian Joppke has observed, “the status of settled foreigners in Germany would be exceedingly precarious” (Joppke 1999: 69). The persistent reluctance that German executive and legislative bodies have displayed to remedy this status highlights the limitations of majority-based forms of democratic governance to extend adequate protections to vulnerable minorities, especially those who have not been enfranchised. In remedying this status, the federal courts have produced a substantial body of cases relating to the law of aliens. In particular, the Federal Constitutional Court has often had a significant role as...

    • Chapter 13 The FRG’s International Refugee Challenge
      (pp. 126-143)

      The magnitude of international refugee movements in the twentieth century was unprecedented in world history. While mass migration is hardly new, the growth of effective state management of this movement dates only as far back as World War I. Not coincidently, the challenge posed by large-scale refugee movements first attracted sustained international attention during the interwar years. In a world presumed to be organized on the principle of nationstates, refugees are an inconvenient anomaly for most governments. They are typically not wanted anywhere, not by the states that produce them and even less by the states that end up hosting...

    • Chapter 14 Reunification: Triumph and Tragedy
      (pp. 144-156)

      The issue of reunification had long been invoked as a policy rationale to justify restricting immigrant access to citizenship in the FRG. Christian Joppke has succinctly explained this rationale: “As long as Germany was divided, and the free western part defined itself as the homeland of all Germans who were not free to determine their own fate—a definition enshrined in the Preamble of the Basic Law—Germany could tolerate immigrants only as ‘guest workers,’ who were expected to stay out of the nation’s own unfinished business” (Joppke 1999: 261). In interpreting the Preamble to the Basic Law, the Federal...

  9. Part 3: Germany inside the European Union

    • Chapter 15 Reforming the Frameworks: The Maastricht Treaty and the Basic Law
      (pp. 159-167)

      In April 1990, French President François Mitterand and German Chancellor Helmut Kohl threw their combined support behind a further goal of reform aimed at promoting European integration. They sent a letter to the President of Ireland, who at that time held the rotating presidency position of the European Council, proposing that plans for political union should be discussed alongside those for economic and monetary union. From these discussions, the Member States’ heads of government, meeting in Maastricht, reached an agreement on a union treaty in December 1991.¹ The so-called Maastricht Treaty or Treaty on European Union (TEU) took effect on...

    • Chapter 16 The Restriction of Asylum
      (pp. 168-180)

      In confronting the continuing influx of asylum seekers during the early 1990s, the FRG clearly recognized that it could not control the admission of asylum seekers to its territory without the committed cooperation of its fellow Member States. Such cooperation became increasingly important in light of the agreed upon goal to abolish internal barriers among them. To develop a framework for this cooperation, eleven of the then twelve Member States signed the Dublin Convention on 15 June 1990.¹ It was designed in the largest part to prevent the submission of serial applications by the same individual to different Member States....

    • Chapter 17 Rethinking Legacies: The New Aussiedler Policy
      (pp. 181-187)

      Throughout the Cold War era, the federal government had emphasized the status of theAussiedleras returning Germans—a posture intended in part to keep policy debates over their reception separate from other migration issues. By the first half of the 1990s, this strategy had begun to fragment. The rapidly growing influx of theAussiedlerthat had started in the late 1980s made the financial costs of their reception a continuing source of public debate and controversy. The all too obvious cultural differences that marked the ethnic Germans from Russia from those from Eastern Europe undermined the effectiveness of ethnocultural...

    • Chapter 18 Jewish Immigration: Contesting and Confirming Germany’s Policies toward Immigrants
      (pp. 188-196)

      Two of the most striking aspects of German reunification have been the remarkable expansion of the Jewish community in Germany and the lack of political backlash caused by this immigration. The fall of the Berlin wall in 1989 marked the beginning of a wave of Jewish migration into Germany from Russia. Although the number of Soviet Jews entering the FRG remained tiny compared to that of theAussiedlerand asylum seekers, the issue of controlling the admissions of Jewish refugees posed a delicate problem for the Kohl administration. On the one hand, it was making every effort to sharply reduce...

    • Chapter 19 Reforming German Citizenship Law
      (pp. 197-206)

      By codifying the idea of a “European citizenship,” the Maastricht Treaty opened the door to a broader public debate over the rights, obligations, and conditions that should be attached to it. One glaring feature of the Treaty’s definition of this idea was its exclusion of third-country nationals. To rectify this problem, the European Parliament, the Council of Europe, and various organizations, including the Anti-racist Network for Equality in Europe, the Churches’ Commission for Migrants in Europe, and the European Union Migrants’ Forum, have advocated the introduction of residence-based measures for the acquisition of European citizenship independent of Member State nationality...

    • Chapter 20 Bilateral Agreements
      (pp. 207-210)

      With the Constitutional Court’s broad, though ambiguous, approval of its new asylum policy, the FRG had to ensure that the government remained in control of their borders. Germany’s government realized that the EU offered new opportunities to relieve the financial costs of doing so. As a result, the German government became a staunch supporter of increased cooperation within the EU to manage its borders. One reason for their activism for deeper cooperation was Germany’s geographic position at the easternmost buffer zone between the EU and non-EU Central and Eastern European countries. Another, more important, reason relates to a compromise reached...

    • Chapter 21 Temporary Labor Migration Programs
      (pp. 211-215)

      While the FRG was restricting its asylum policies and fortifying the border, the government continued to rely on temporary labor migration programs to fill persistent labor gaps. After the halt to guestworker recruitment in 1973, the FRG renewed temporary labor programs during the early 1990s as a response to the increasing numbers of Eastern Europeans who were seeking short-term work in the FRG in such areas as construction, hotels and resorts, and agriculture (Hönekopp 1997: 168–169). Many German employers found these workers very appealing as a low cost and flexible labor source. By providing jobs, training, and income to...

    • Chapter 22 The Amsterdam Treaty and the Emergent EU Migration Policy
      (pp. 216-226)

      Differences among Member States over the pace and scale of integration continue to divide the European Union. Following the accession of three new Member States in 1995,¹ the prospect of further enlargement magnified the stakes involved over these differences.² The Maastricht Treaty had provided for an intergovernmental conference to be convened in 1996.³ This conference provided the occasion for reviewing the foundational treaties of the EU.⁴ From this reform effort, the heads of the fifteen EU Member States signed the Amsterdam Treaty on 2 October 1997. After relatively rapid ratification by national parliaments, the Treaty came into force on 1...

  10. Part 4: Germany Faces the Future:: New Initiatives, Old Habits

    • Chapter 23 Green Cards and Leitkultur
      (pp. 229-237)

      By 2000, the ominous demographic trends and their consequences were well known in Germany, but the politics of immigration seldom turn on findings of social science research. Germany’s struggle to develop a new and more positive approach to immigration was reflected in the 2000 controversy over the so-called “Green Card” initiative. After the adoption of the 1999 Citizenship Law reform, the issue of immigration receded again from the forefront of public discourse in the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG). It reemerged again, however, in the debate over the introduction of a “Green Card” program. Using the start of the CeBIT...

    • Chapter 24 Germany’s and Europe’s Demographic Dilemmas
      (pp. 238-243)

      No serious contemporary analytical or policy conversation about Germany, its immigrants, and the country’s unavoidable opening to further immigration can occur without a deep understanding of the country’s demographic predicament.¹ Although the political connection between demographics and future immigration flows were made explicit only rather recently,² recognition of the existence of a problem is not new.³ In 1995, for instance, Max Wingen from the Federal German Ministry for Family and senior Citizen Affairs examined the interconnectedness between an aging German population, low fertility rate, and immigration. He concluded that “the demographic deficits of an aging population can only be corrected...

    • Chapter 25 Embracing Immigration: Laying the Foundation for a New Policy
      (pp. 244-250)

      In its 2001 report, the Independent Commission on Immigration to Germany created by the SPD/Green-led federal government took up the challenges that would be involved in defining a new policy framework for immigration. In developing this framework, the Commission emphasized the importance of both economic needs and humanitarian considerations. “Germany must fulfill its responsibility and obligation,” the report declared, “Germany must also meet its responsibilities and obligations as an important and reliable member of the international community of states. This applies particularly to the scope of the Geneva Refugee Convention and the European Human Rights Convention.” (Independent Commission on Immigration...

    • Chapter 26 From Policy Vision to Legislative Reality: The Making of the 2005 Migration Law
      (pp. 251-260)

      After years of missed opportunities in immigration management, the SPD/Green coalition had come to power in 1998 with the political agenda to reform and modernize Germany’s citizenship, immigration, and integration policies. The objective of the coalition was to overturn fundamental assumptions that had governed earlier policy approaches to migration, which were anchored on the long-standing claim that Germany is not a country of immigration. Even before the coalition came to power, these assumptions had grown increasingly untenable. As Kruse, Orren and Angenendt observe, “there was a new acceptance … that Germany needed immigration, particularly of highly skilled workers; that efforts...

    • Chapter 27 Integration and the Migration Law
      (pp. 261-272)

      The new migration law was supposed to regulate immigration, and it does so, if only at the margins. Its greatest contribution, however, has been to bring integration to the center of federal policymaking. Integration gained prominence as an EU-wide issue in Tampere and a subsequent European Commission communication in 2000, which urged national governments to adopt more effective integration strategies.¹ The discussion about integration in German national politics was novel in many ways, however, because federal level immigrant integration policies until the late 1990 had to contend with the legacy of the 1960s mentality that immigrants would somehow return home.²...

  11. Conclusion: Negotiating Difference and Belonging in Today’s Germany
    (pp. 273-285)

    Few advanced democracies have absorbed more persons born in other countries than Germany has since the end of World War II, and few European countries have been as consistently “immigrant dense”¹ as Germany. Even more to the point, if one were to count foreign-born persons, rather than indulge the counting games that countries have devised for their own political and ideological ends, Germany is about as immigrant dense as the United States—and it has been so for more than a generation.² As this volume has demonstrated clearly, Germany has experience with successfully integrating very large numbers of foreign-born persons...

  12. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 286-315)
  13. Index
    (pp. 316-330)