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World map with color-coded proportion of immigrants per country in 2005
European immigrants arrive in Argentina

People who leave their previous places of residence individually or in groups in order to settle in other places permanently or at least for a longer period of time are referred to as migrants . Commuters , tourists and other short-term stays do not fall under the definition of migration , seasonal labor migration is sometimes included.

If people cross national borders in the course of their migration, they are called immigrants or immigrants (from Latin : migrare , to wander) from the perspective of the country they are entering . (From the perspective of the country they are leaving, they are called emigrants or emigrants.) Sociology usually describes immigration as immigration (as well as emigration corresponding to emigration ).

Although the Latin word “ migrant ” literally means “migrant”, immigrants whose migration process has been completed are also referred to as “migrants” until they become “people with a migration background ”. Their descendants born in the country of immigration are also referred to as “people with a migration background”, especially in connection with population statistics, even if they did not take part in any migration process themselves.

Globally, the number of immigrants (i.e. those who have moved permanently from abroad to the country of origin in their lifetime) is estimated at 231.5 million, 3.25% of the world population. Migration is a significant change in a person's life and is associated with great, sometimes life-threatening risks (see illegal migration ), and it often tears apart family associations and social structures.

The modern image of immigration is to be seen in connection with the terms nation states and nationalities as well as passports , borders with border controls and citizenship law. In many states, immigrants as non-citizens have restricted rights in relation to citizens , especially the right to settlement is in some cases strictly restricted by immigration laws (see also immigration law ). Immigration without legal permission or in violation of the limits set by the form of residence permit - so-called illegal immigration - can be punishable and usually leads to arrest and conviction and / or deportation by state authorities .

Unless they are repatriates, immigrants sometimes differ from the inhabitants of a state . This can create problems and tensions between immigrants and the long-time residents of the country. This also depends on culture, mentality and traditions (e.g. hospitality , xenophobia ), economic situation or prospects and many other factors. Sometimes immigrants and natives perceive the same tension or problem very differently . In many countries there have been debates about integration or assimilation and the effects of multiculturalism for decades .


According to a 2006 report by the General Secretariat of the United Nations (UN) on global immigration and development, there are approximately 200 million immigrants worldwide. The UN defines an international migrant as a person who leaves his or her place of habitual residence - understood as the place where he or she spends daily or weekly rest and leisure - and settles in another place in another country, so that it becomes the new place of habitual residence.

According to this UN definition, the percentage of immigrants in selected European Member States in 2014 was as follows:

country proportion of Most represented countries of origin
LuxembourgLuxembourg Luxembourg 45.28% Portugal, France, Italy
SpainSpain Spain 10.06% Romania, Morocco, Ecuador
AustriaAustria Austria 12.42% Germany, Serbia, Turkey
BelgiumBelgium Belgium 11.29% Italy, France, Netherlands
GermanyGermany Germany 8.68% Turkey, Russia, Poland
United KingdomUnited Kingdom United Kingdom 7.77% Ireland, India, Pakistan
ItalyItaly Italy 8.1% Romania, Albania, Morocco
SwedenSweden Sweden 7.12% Finland, Iraq, Poland
FranceFrance France 6.31% Algeria, Morocco, Portugal
NetherlandsNetherlands Netherlands 4.37% Turkey, Morocco, Indonesia

Migration movements in the 20th century

Information board on immigration in the border area between Mali and Mauritania; funded by the EU
  • Religious , cultural and political persecution in many countries, especially in Europe and the Middle East, in the 20th century, especially in the 1930s, led to e.g. B. Liberals and Jews emigrated to more open societies, such as the United States of America , Canada or Australia .
  • Between 1944/45 and 1950, around 12 to 14 million Germans and citizens of German origin from various countries were affected by flight and displacement.
  • The end of the colonial era meant that many people from overseas colonies came to the (still or no longer) colonial countries, especially in metropolises such as London, Paris and Brussels.
  • The decade-long German economic boom after the war meant that countries such as B. Turkey , Italy , Spain , Greece , Morocco or Yugoslavia so-called guest workers were recruited ( labor migration ). Through family reunification , the number of immigrants continued to increase. Guest workers usually had fixed-term contracts and it was intended that they would only stay in Germany for a while. The majority therefore ultimately returned to their countries of origin, but a small part stayed in Germany. As a result, even after the recruitment ban in 1973, millions of people from the former guest worker countries followed the guest workers. They looked for work in Germany or migrated for other reasons and usually stayed in the country. Other Western European countries signed similar treaties.
  • After the end of the Second World War and until the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989, many people fled political persecution from the countries of the then Eastern Bloc to the West
  • After the fall of the Iron Curtain, many Eastern European migrants came to Western Europe.
  • After the surrender of South Vietnam in 1975 (so-called refuge in the 20 years to more than 1.6 million South Vietnamese on boats out of the country boat people ). Many of them managed to immigrate to a western country either directly or via intermediate stops.
  • As a result of the collapse of the Soviet Union , ethnic repatriates came to Germany in the early 1990s .
  • Due to political causes such as war, upheavals or political persecution, especially in the 1980s and 1990s, numerous people from the Near and Middle East and Africa applied for asylum, including in Germany.
  • In the 1990s, hundreds of thousands of people from the Balkan countries came to Western Europe from war zones such as the crumbling Yugoslavia , mostly to German-speaking countries.
  • Up to the present, refugee movements from dysfunctional or war-affected countries in Africa and the Middle East (including Afghanistan) to the global north have risen sharply, culminating in the refugee crisis in Europe from 2015 .

Immigration to different countries

German family who emigrated to the USA in 1930

There are classic immigration countries , above all the USA , Canada , the countries of South America and Australia , to which a large proportion of the population only immigrated in the last few centuries and which are still relatively sparsely populated today. Even in Europe, there has been always been large population movements, for example, at the time of migration of peoples or in postcolonial period, the migration from North Africa to France (after France in 1962 the Algerian war was lost, there were about 1.4 million Pied-noirs , many of whom moved to France in 1962 or soon after).

Other global immigration areas (especially internal migration) are the eastern region of China around Shanghai , various parts of Indonesia ( Transmigrasi ), the Cape region of South Africa , Israel (immigration mainly of Russian Jews), Saudi Arabia and Russia (return migration of ethnic Russians from CIS countries ).

Through the immigration to the United States , the composition of the local population has changed dramatically. According to a census of 1790, around 60 percent of the white population came from England . Between 1850 and 1930, 5 million Germans came to the United States from Austria-Hungary, and between 1876 and 1910 around 3 million. From 1882, Chinese workers were banned from immigrating.

Immigration law

Those wishing to immigrate are often confronted with immigration laws in their destination countries, which regulate their migration plans by law. See article Aliens Law .

Immigration to Germany


Due to its central location in Europe, the area of ​​Germany has been both a transit point and a destination for various immigrant groups for centuries . The Edict of Potsdam , also known as the Potsdam Edict of Tolerance , was an edict of tolerance that was passed on October 29th . / November 8th 1685 greg. was issued by the Prussian Great Elector Friedrich Wilhelm von Brandenburg . The elector - in contrast to the Evangelical-Lutheran majority of the population of Brandenburg himself - Calvinist faith - offered his Protestant co-religionists, the Huguenots , persecuted in France because of their religion , free and secure settlement in Brandenburg . The refugees were granted generous privileges , including exemption from taxes and customs duties , subsidies for commercial enterprises and the payment of pastors by the principality. Many of them settled in Potsdam and Berlin ( see Huguenots in Berlin ).

When religious freedom in Bohemia ended in 1620 after the Battle of White Mountain , Protestants in Moravia and Bohemia increasingly came under the pressure of the Counter-Reformation . From 1722 onwards, following a promise of support from Count Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf, a large number of sympathizers of the Bohemian Brothers, first coming from Moravia, immigrated to Saxony . In their luggage was also the theological and philosophical legacy of Johann Amos Comenius . The exiles were initially among themselves and founded in Herrnhut in 1727, the still existing Brethren . Conflicts with and distrust among the original population at the time also led to a continuation of the migration movement, as a result of which groups of the Moravian Brethren first settled in Berlin and later in other German locations.

In 1905 more than a million foreigners lived in the German Reich, 42% of them women. About half were "Austrians" (including Czechs, Slovaks, Galicians and other immigrants from countries that belonged to Austria at the time ), around 107,000 "Russians" (including Poles and other immigrants from the former Russian Empire ), around 100,000 Dutch each and Italians, 82,000 Hungarians (all countries of the Hungarian crown), 63,000 Swiss, 30,000 Danes, around 20,000 French, British and Americans each (including Latin Americans), 14,000 Luxembourgers, around 12,000 each Belgian and Scandinavian, 397 Chinese, 174 Japanese, 100 others Asians (including Turks) and 99 Africans.

As a result of the flight and expulsion of Germans from Central and Eastern Europe , around 6 million people, mostly Germans , came to what would later become the Federal Republic of Germany , who made up around 15 percent of the total population of West Germany. Another wave of migration began in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s when, in the wake of the “ economic miracle ”, many millions of workers from Italy , Spain , Greece , Yugoslavia , Turkey , Portugal , Morocco , Tunisia and South Korea were employed as guest workers ( see also "Development in the Federal Republic of Germany" ). A recruitment ban was imposed in 1973 , and the most important possibility for immigration was family reunification . The next few years were marked by efforts by the federal governments of Helmut Schmidt and Helmut Kohl to limit immigration or to return former guest workers to their countries of origin, but these were unsuccessful. The majority of guest workers only stayed in Germany for a while and then returned to their countries of origin. However, millions of guest workers also stayed in Germany for a long time.

In the 1980s, the immigration debate was mainly characterized by, in some cases, very emotional arguments about the right to asylum . Due to political causes such as the Lebanon War , the wars in Afghanistan , the First Gulf War , conflicts and wars in Africa , the persecution of Kurds or as a result of the Iranian Revolution or the Vietnam War ( boat people ) applied mainly in the second half of the 1970s and In the 1980s and 1990s, numerous people received asylum in Germany. Its very generous interpretation for historical reasons made it possible not only for war refugees and the politically persecuted, but also for migrant workers to immigrate to the Federal Republic of Germany, which was otherwise very difficult. Even after the recruitment ban in 1973, a large number of people migrated from countries like Turkey . They mostly hoped for more prosperity and higher wages in Germany. Many migrated, however, often also for political reasons such as unrest, upheavals or politics in their country of origin.

The special program adopted by the federal government in 1988 for the integration of resettlers, the opening policy of the Soviet government at the end of the 1980s, which also approved the departure of a large number of resettlers, the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and poverty in Russia and Ukraine led to a larger Number of people immigrated to Germany from the former Soviet Union , including millions of Spätaussiedler (people of German descent), who are called Russian Germans , as well as contingent refugees of " Jewish nationality " who now make up the majority of Jews in Germany . In addition to the Soviet Union, many repatriates came to Germany , especially from Poland .

In the 1990s, many people , mostly Kosovar Albanians , Bosnians , Croats and Serbs , emigrated from the Balkan countries to Germany in the course of the Yugoslav wars .

Increasing xenophobia, an emotionalized asylum debate and a series of racist attacks in the early 1990s finally led to the so-called asylum compromise in 1992 , a significant tightening of asylum law.

The reform of the citizenship law of Gerhard Schröder's red-green federal government in 2000 can be seen as a sign that Germany began to see itself as a country of immigration and a multicultural society. In contrast to the old version of the law from 1913, which determined German citizenship via ethnic origin according to the ius sanguinis , the new law approaches the normal case of western European immigration societies, the ius soli, and gives second-generation immigrants born in Germany the opportunity of naturalization (so-called "option model"). However, as in other Western European countries, a debate began in these years about integration and integration deficits, especially among Muslim immigrants.

Hundreds of Poles migrated to Germany in the 2000s. The number of immigrants decreased rapidly overall. The EU Freedom of Movement Act 2005 and the accession of Romania and Bulgaria to the EU in 2007 meant that numerous Bulgarians and Romanians came to Germany. Since then, the number of immigrants has risen sharply again. Starting in 2015 in particular, millions of people, mostly from the Middle East (especially Syria ), Afghanistan and Africa , applied for asylum in Germany ( refugee crisis ).

From the point of view of 2015, the “Spiegel” takes stock of the typical attitude of Germans on the subject of immigration. He comes to the conclusion that the decisive question is “how much diversity German society can really endure”. The “Spiegel” authors also state: “In Germany, immigrants are either dismissed or feared as poverty migrants or are misunderstood by the economy as quick, cheap fillers for the shortage of workers and skilled workers. Much good cannot follow from such shortened perspectives. "

In fact, the topos of poorly qualified immigrants only applies to a limited extent. The latest generation of immigrants to Germany in 2013 were on average much better qualified than Germans. The high level of youth unemployment in many countries of the European Union, which also affects many highly qualified people, plays an important role here . In January 2014 Werner Eichhorst, Director for European Labor Market Policy at the “Institute for the Future of Work (IZA)” stated: “There are no signs of immigration into unemployment or poverty. The job seekers who come usually find jobs without displacing local workers. "


Immigrants to Germany 2000 to 2017.
Data source: OECD International Migration Database 2020

At the end of 2011, according to the Federal Statistical Office , there were 6.93 million foreigners living in Germany . H. Persons registered under registration law without German citizenship . Around one in five of the 6.93 million foreigners was born in the Federal Republic. On average, immigrants have lived in Germany for almost 19 years. A total of around 15.7 million people in Germany had a migration background in 2009 ; That is, they immigrated to the Federal Republic after 1950 or are wholly or partly descended from these immigrants. The terms foreigner and migrant background are often used synonymously in the population , although a distinction must be made between the two terms. In 2006, around 15.1 million people with a migration background lived in Germany, many of whom, however, also descended from German ancestors. When evaluating statistics, it must also be taken into account that migrants who take on German citizenship are no longer counted as foreigners from the time of naturalization.

In 2009, 606,000 people with foreign citizenship immigrated to Germany and 579,000 without German citizenship. This corresponds to an overhang of around 27,000 immigrants. In 2011, 958,000 people moved to Germany. In 2014 there were 629,000 registered refugees in Germany (130,000 more than in 2013), of which 338,000 are recognized as such. The other registered refugees are asylum seekers and tolerated persons.

Proponents of an increase in immigration are often countered by the fact that in many cases this would lead to “immigration into the social systems”. According to an investigation by the Federal Government Commissioner for Foreigners Issues, the arrival of families to their working spouses must also be taken into account.

According to an analysis by the Marktwirtschaft Foundation in 2009, most foreigners in Germany paid fewer taxes than they received in terms of benefits over the course of their lives due to their poor qualifications and wages compared to German employees. The majority of immigration to Germany after 1973 (the year when guest workers were stopped from recruiting ), which took place primarily through family reunification, had taken place in the German social system: although the number of foreigners was 7.5 million by the year 2000 rose, the proportion of employed foreigners stagnated at around 2 million.

In 1974 the employment rate of the foreign population was 61.5%, that of the Germans only 42.7%. Today, however - due to family reunification and the differentiation of immigration according to the recruitment stop (e.g. labor migration, family reunification, refugees, Jewish quota refugees) - one can speak of a normalization: For Germans as well as foreigners, the employment rate was 49 in 2001 , 1% (Germans) and 50.9% (foreigners), the age and gender structure has also adjusted.

According to calculations by the “ Center for European Economic Research (ZEW)from 2014 , every foreigner in Germany pays an average of 3300 euros more in taxes and social security contributions per year than they receive in state benefits. The plus per capita has therefore increased by more than half in the past ten years. On average, every person without German citizenship transfers 22,300 euros more to the state in their lifetime than they receive in transfers. In total, the welfare state benefits in the order of 147.9 billion euros from the foreigners already living in Germany. According to the ZEW, every citizen could receive fiscal relief of more than 400 euros annually if at least 200,000 immigrants came to Germany per year in the future and 30 percent of them were highly qualified and another 50 percent had medium qualifications.

In the above-mentioned study, however, the ZEW finds that children of foreign parents who were born in Germany in 2012 will cost the German state an average of around EUR 44,000 more in transfer payments than they do in taxes and payments over their entire life cycle Pay social contributions if, on average, they do not acquire significantly better qualifications than their parents. In order to ensure that second generation immigrants achieve the average qualification level of the German population, more intensive state efforts are necessary. In addition, the more targeted control of immigration would " significantly defuse Germany's demographic problems ", which would have to contribute to the fact that foreigners, due to their relatively low qualifications on average, pay significantly less taxes and duties than Germans in their active phase between 20 and 60 years and thus increase this are exposed to the risk of being dependent on basic security benefits in old age due to their poverty in old age . On balance, however, it would be sufficient if 30 percent of the children of foreign parents who were born in Germany in 2012 achieved the average lifetime income typical for Germans (assuming that the remaining 70 percent do not have a lifetime income higher than their parents), So that this year of people with a migration background does not harm the German economy through their permanent residence in Germany.

A study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) published in 2019 confirmed that Germany was only of limited attractiveness for foreign skilled workers. In a comparison of 30 industrialized nations, Germany took twelfth place, in particular because of below-average professional opportunities. The unemployment rate for immigrant academics was seven percent above the average. Against this background, there was also criticism of the Skilled Workers Immigration Act due to the complicated rules for the recognition of qualifications from non-EU countries.

Countries of origin

In 2012, 10.7 million people from 194 countries lived in Germany, the majority (7.4 million) of them from Europe.

The most important country of origin is still Turkey, followed by Italy and Poland. Almost every fourth foreigner in Germany without German citizenship comes from Turkey. At the same time, the number of Turks in Germany has been falling steadily since its peak twelve years ago - from 2.1 million then to 1.6 million today. In addition to naturalizations, the statisticians also name deaths and returnees as reasons.

More than every third (36 percent) foreigner in Germany comes from one of the 28 EU member states . The number of Europeans also increased particularly strongly within one year with 75,400 (plus 3.2 percent). The statisticians cite immigration as the main cause. The largest increase was with 21,600 people among Romanians, followed by Poles and Bulgarians. In 2012 around 71,000 Bulgarians and Romanians came to Germany. In percentage terms, the increase was highest in Latvia, Bulgaria and Romania. Greece is the only EU member state from which significantly fewer people lived in Germany than in the previous year (minus 1,400).

Immigration policy

Legal status

The German immigration law is subject to certain restrictions due to the regulations of the European Union on the free movement of people .

In Germany, immigrants can be divided into the following groups:

  • Spätaussiedler , i.e. German people from German settlement areas in Eastern Europe, in particular from the areas that are now part of Poland and Russia (immigration regulation according to the Federal Expellees and Refugees Act (BVFG) of 1953 and the Reorganization Act (AAG) of 1990),
  • Union citizens and nationals of the other states of the European Economic Area (EEA) and their family members (also from non-EEA states); they enjoy the right to freedom of movement according to the EU Free Movement Act , the same applies to Swiss citizens according to the EU-Switzerland Agreement on Free Movement ,
  • Labor migrants from third countries (non-EU countries); According to the Residence Act, they can enter Germany as employees or self-employed and stay in Germany; however, immigration for labor migration is severely restricted,
  • Family members of Germans and foreigners living here, especially spouses and minor children; they may be given the right to move to Germany under the Residence Act ,
  • Students; they may receive a right of residence for study purposes according to the Residence Act,
  • Asylum seekers ; According to Article 16a of the Basic Law and the Asylum Procedure Act, they can apply for refugee status, asylum entitlement or refugee status,
  • Persons who, for humanitarian, political or international law reasons, are granted a right of residence under the Residence Act or under agreements of the IMK (ministerial decrees) (mostly without legal entitlement); so far this includes z. B. Civil War Refugees,
  • Contingent refugees ; This group of people could be accepted into Germany from 1991 to 2004, mainly from the states of the former Soviet Union,
  • Illegal immigrants who do not have a regular status under the aliens law.

The immigration of people to Germany, as well as transnational migration, affects not only individuals but also families: in the Immigration Act z. B. regulated the reunification age of family members of immigrants.

That is why immigration is described in the Federal Government's 6th Family Report "Families of Foreign Origin - Achievements - Burdens - Challenges", 2000, as a family project that takes place across generations and is not completed in one generation. I.a. This report by the Federal Ministry for Family, Seniors, Women and Youth (BMFSFJ) from the year 2000 makes it clear that the Federal Republic of Germany is a country of immigration and that the integration of immigrants is promoted and stabilized by the timely arrival of family members.

Immigrants have a wide variety of reasons for migrating or fleeing and differ, for example, in terms of their intention to stay in Germany for a short or longer period or just to wander through.

Statistics on family reunification have been available since 1996 . This shows a range of 55,000 to 63,000 family members per year. Two thirds of the family reunification are spouses and about one third are children (20,000). Compared with the number of primary immigrants of 649,249 people, one tenth of this number adds up through family immigration.

"Integration policy must focus more on the 'whole family' and at least supplement and reinforce this perspective alongside the 'family member target group orientation', which today is mainly implemented in the form of projects for children, young people and girls," it says in the interim report on the project "The social immediate area in its integration function for families of foreign origin" of the German Youth Institute , because the families of immigrants also represent a living space that can counteract integration, since language acquisition and the overcoming of cultural foreignness can be delayed.

social acceptance

A representative survey published in mid-2019 by Kantar Emnid on behalf of the non-profit Bertelsmann Foundation confirmed widespread skepticism towards immigration. 49% of the participants said that Germany could no longer accept any further refugees (2017 the value was 54%; 2015 it was 40%). 37% (2017: 37%; 2015: 51%) said Germany could take in more refugees. The welcoming culture towards immigrants who work or study in Germany was described as "robust" by the study authors. Both the authorities (79%) and the local population (71%) welcome the majority of the immigrants. Younger people in particular viewed immigration as positive. Overall, a majority of those questioned were pragmatic about the consequences.

Immigration to Switzerland

In Switzerland, a popular initiative to restrict immigration was adopted on February 9, 2014.

Immigration to Austria

The residence of non-citizens (legally “foreigners”) in Austria is regulated by the state. The Settlement and Residence Act (NAG) regulates the different types of residence permits for foreigners who want to stay in Austria for more than six months . Stays of less than six months are regulated across Europe by Regulation (EU) 2018/1806 (EU Visa Regulation) . The Aliens Police Act 2005 (FPG), on the other hand, does not deal with residence permits, but with the procedure: It regulates the exercise of the aliens police, the issuing of entry permits, the rejection, the issuing of measures to terminate the residence, the deportation, the tolerance, the enforcement of return decisions of EEA countries and the issuing of documents to foreigners.

To your own admission of third-country nationals one's Schengen visa necessary. For a longer stay, a residence permit is required (for details on this, see the linked article). A residence permit may only be issued if the foreigner making the application has an appropriate place of residence, a steady regular income and health insurance. If you have a residence title for permanent or long-term residence, modules of the integration agreement must be completed.

EEA citizens and Swiss citizens enjoy visa exemption and have the right to stay unhindered for a period of three months. Within the scope of the EU free movement of persons , these foreigners are entitled to a longer stay if they are employed, self-employed or in training in Austria and have “sufficient means of subsistence and comprehensive health insurance protection” for themselves and their relatives. Such a stay is subject to the notification requirement.

Immigration to France

France has a long history of immigration: as early as the 19th century, immigrants were accepted because the industrialization process had led to a labor shortage and the birth rate falling at the same time. This made France an exception in Western Europe at this stage. Most of the other industrialized countries, including Germany, had higher birth rates and were mainly countries of emigration. Due to the decline in population as a result of the wars of 1870/71 and 1914–1918 , the labor shortage worsened. To remedy this, France concluded recruitment agreements with Italy (1904, 1906, 1919), Belgium (1906), Poland (1906) and Czechoslovakia (1920). At the beginning of the 1930s, France was - in absolute terms - the second most important immigration country in the world after the USA. At that time there were around 2.7 million immigrants in France (6.6% of the total population). In addition, political refugees came to France, such as “ white ” Russians after the October Revolution , Armenians and other oriental Christians from the Ottoman Empire after the genocide of 1915 , Italians after the fascists came to power or Spaniards after the Spanish Civil War and the victory of the Franco nationalists . Even then, immigration was a frequently debated and politically explosive topic. Finally, the government put a stop to recruitment and tried to prevent further immigration; political refugees from Spain were held in camps that were later also used by the Vichy regime .

After the Second World War and during the economic boom of the 1950s and 1960s ( les trentes glorieuses ), France recruited workers mainly from Italy, Portugal and Spain, similar to the guest workers in western Germany. In connection with Algeria's independence in 1962, there was an extensive wave of French settlers ( pieds-noirs ) and pro-French Algerians ( Harkis ) to France. During the economic crisis of the early 1970s, France followed the example of other European countries and in 1974 stopped all recruitment programs for foreign workers. However, this did not result in a return of immigrants or a decrease in immigration. Many immigrants stayed in France and brought their families to join them. Since then, family reunification has been the numerically most important form of immigration. At the same time, immigration from the former colonies increased as a result of decolonization : there were now immigrants from the Antilles , the Maghreb , sub-Saharan Africa and, to a lesser extent, from Southeast Asia ( Indochina ).

In the 1980s, as a reaction to widespread racism, a kind of civil rights movement developed among the Maghreb immigrants, who now referred to themselves as beurs , a slang word for arabe (Arabs), and organizations such as SOS Racisme emerged . The idea of ​​a multicultural France, a société métissé , was now particularly emphasized by the political left.

In the early 1990s, the trend in politics changed, the conservative Interior Minister Charles Pasqua pursued the goal of a zero immigration policy ( immigration zéro ). Numerous regulations have been tightened. So was z. For example, the waiting period for family reunification was extended from one to two years, and foreign graduates from French universities were not allowed to work in France. However, the introduction of the so-called "Pasqua Laws" was highly controversial. The protests culminated in 1996 when a church in Paris was occupied by Africans and Chinese who had lived in France for many years and wanted to draw attention to their precarious situation. Thousands of people supported the protests of the sans papiers , as they call illegal immigrants in France. From 1997, under the socialist Prime Minister Lionel Jospin , many of the restrictive regulations were withdrawn or weakened. In addition, a special immigration status was created for highly qualified workers, scientists and artists. In 1997, a legalization program was also launched for foreigners who were in the country without permission. Since the renewed change of government in 2002 and since the presidency of Nicolas Sarkozy in 2007, a return to a more restrictive immigration policy has been observed.

Today, many immigrants live in large new housing estates ( banlieue ) on the outskirts of large cities that were built in the 1970s . The integration of immigrants, a majority of whom have French citizenship, has been very incomplete. France traditionally pursued a policy of assimilation of immigrants, so that earlier immigrant groups were completely absorbed into French society after some time and their descendants' origins can only be identified by their Italian, Spanish or Polish names. This has now reached its limits, as Muslim immigrants in particular insist on their cultural independence. In France, which pursues a strictly secular policy, religion in particular is a frequent cause of conflict. In the big cities, entire city districts have taken on an oriental or African character; in this context, the term ghettoization is often used . This " Maghrebization " stirs up fear of foreign infiltration and racism in the majority society. Conflicts with police officers and significant social and economic disadvantage increased the potential for conflict and repeatedly led to outbreaks of violence, including the unrest in October and November 2005 . The number of racist attacks on Islamic and Jewish institutions has also increased significantly - France has the largest Muslim and the largest Jewish community in Europe with 6 million Muslims and 600,000 Jews - anti-Semitism is also very widespread among Muslim youth.

On October 12, 2010, the National Assembly approved a stricter immigration law, which provides for the withdrawal of citizenship for immigrants in the event of severe attacks on officials, as well as easier expulsion of EU citizens in certain cases. In the words of the taz, France should then "have the toughest laws against EU citizens within the Union". These are aimed primarily at Roma families from Romania and Bulgaria, who are perceived as potential troublemakers and criminals.

However, the perception of emigration as a problem is offset by a growing awareness that immigration is an enrichment for French society. The Museum of the History of Immigration ( Cité nationale de l'histoire de l'immigration ), which opened in Paris in 2007, points in this direction. The aim of the project is, on the one hand, to present the history of immigration to France. In addition, the museum should also help to achieve a change in the way we deal with immigration: Migration should increasingly be viewed as normality, emphasizing its positive aspects.

Immigration to Great Britain

→ see UK demographics # Migration

Immigration to South Africa

The national territory of today's South Africa was and is the target area for migrants from different regions of origin. The largest immigration groups over several centuries include Bantu peoples , Europeans ( Boers , Germans, English, Jewish emigrants ) and people of Indian origin .

Immigration to Israel

→ see Alija

Immigration to Denmark

→ see Immigration and Immigration Policy in Denmark since 1945

See also

Portal: Migration and Integration  - Articles, categories and more on migration and flight, intercultural dialogue and integration


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  • Doug Saunders : Arrival City: How the Largest Migration in History is Reshaping Our World . Knopf Canada, Toronto 2011, ISBN 978-0-307-39689-1 . (In German: Arrival City. Millions of people move from the countryside to the cities across all borders. Our future depends on them. Karl Blessing Verlag, Munich 2011, ISBN 978-3-89667-392-3 ).
  • Johannes-Dieter Steinert: Migration and Politics. West Germany - Europe - Overseas 1945–1961 . Osnabrück 1995.
  • Hans Uske, Michael Heveling-Fischell, Waldemar Mathejczyk: Migration risk. Illness and disability from work. Duisburg Institute for Language and Social Research, Duisburg 2001, ISBN 3-927388-81-5 (book trade information [1] ).

Web links

Commons : Immigration  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Immigration  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations



Individual evidence

  1. UN estimate, 2013.
  2. Report of the General Secretariat on International Immigration and Development, United Nations, 2006.
  3. European Union: Share of foreign nationals in the total population in the member states in 2013 , accessed on January 18, 2016.
  4. Bernd Faulenbach: The expulsion of the Germans from the areas beyond the Oder and Neisse. For scientific and public discussion in Germany. In: From Politics and Contemporary History (B 51-52 / 2002; online )
  5. See also Federal Statistical Office: The German losses in displacement. Wiesbaden 1958.
  6. Immigration Worldwide: Policies, Practices, and Trends. Uma A. Segal, Doreen Elliott, Nazneen S. Mayadas (2010). Oxford University Press US. (English)
  7. ↑ The Edict of Tolerance becomes practical ( Memento of April 24, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) - Article at the PNN , March 20, 2008.
  8. ^ Edict of Potsdam - Article at ; As of November 5, 2007.
  9. Jakub Šiška: From Jan Hus to the Herrnhutern - how the Bohemian brothers went into the world . Report on Radio Praha on July 21, 2012, on
  10. Christian Center Herrnhut e. V .: A short introduction to the history and vocation of Herrnhut . on
  11. ^ G. Stegemann: Interesting facts from German and international statistics, compiled according to the latest official material. In: Herrmann AL Degener : Who is it? III. Edition, Leipzig 1908, p. XXV.
  12. 2030. There are harder years to come . In: Der Spiegel , issue 12/2015. March 14, 2015. p. 25.
  13. 2030. There are harder years to come . In: Der Spiegel , issue 12/2015. March 14, 2015. p. 27.
  14. New immigrants are often better educated than Germans . Handelsblatt . May 24, 2013.
  15. Tobias Kaiser: Unemployed people from all over Europe come to Germany . In: The world . January 8, 2014.
  16. International Migration Database. In: OECD, August 27, 2020, accessed August 27, 2020 .
  17. ^ Foreign population , Federal Statistical Office , accessed on April 10, 2012.
  18. Tagesschau: Around 6.75 million foreigners live in Germany ( Memento from April 1, 2011 in the Internet Archive )
  19. Background-aktuell/69050/16-millionen-migranten-in-deutschland- 16-07-2010
  20. Federal Statistical Office.
  21. Federal Statistical Office press release No. 185 of May 26, 2010 ( Memento of May 29, 2010 in the Internet Archive )
  22. 630,000 refugees in Germany. German wave . February 15, 2015.
  23. ^ "Social systems are not a self-service store." In: Handelsblatt . January 10, 2014.
  24. Mira Gajevic: No evidence of incursion into the social system. In: Frankfurter Rundschau . April 9, 2014.
  25. The Federal Government Commissioner for Foreigners' Issues: “Immigration to the Social Systems” - a milkmaid bill ( memento from September 24, 2015 in the Internet Archive ). P. 2.
  26. Christopher Caldwell : Immigration to the social systems . In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung . December 8, 2009 ( ).
  27. Uwe Schünemann : Think tank: Immigration must not put a strain on social systems . In: Wirtschaftswoche . October 16, 2010 ( ).
  28. Immigration relieves the German welfare state. The time . November 27, 2014.
  29. Dorothea Siems: Only well-educated migrants support social funds. The world . November 27, 2014.
  30. Dorothea Siems: The state would have to save four trillion euros for the future . In: The world . July 11, 2008 ( ).
  31. Germany in an OECD study: only partially attractive for skilled workers. In: Tagesschau. December 16, 2019, accessed December 17, 2019 .
  32. Study: Germany is hardly attractive for foreign academics. In: Handelsblatt. December 16, 2019, accessed December 17, 2019 .
  33. ↑ Shortage of skilled workers: Study sees hardly any incentives for foreign academics. In: world. December 16, 2019, accessed December 17, 2019 .
  34. Press release Federal Statistical Office ( Memento from February 24, 2014 in the Internet Archive )
  35. El-Sharif, Y. (2013): Immigration from Romania and Bulgaria. Mirror online
  36. Quoted from Wolfgang Erler, Monika Jaeckel: Interim report on the project “The social immediate area in its integration function for families of foreign origin - an innovative approach to family education” by the German Youth Institute , 2002. Accessed on August 26, 2015.
  37. Ulrich Kober, Orkan Kösemen: Welcome culture between skepticism and pragmatics. Germany after the "refugee crisis". Ed .: Bertelsmann Foundation . Gütersloh 2019, p. 11 , doi : 10.11586 / 2019041 ( [PDF; accessed on September 30, 2019]).
  38. Thoralf Cleven: Young people see immigration more positively. According to a Bertelsmann study, Germany is still divided when it comes to migration. In: Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung . August 30, 2019, p. 5 .
  39. Entire legal regulation for the Settlement and Residence Act in the Legal Information System , accessed on June 5, 2015.
  40. French Parliament approves stricter immigration law., October 12, 2010, accessed on October 12, 2010 .
  41. Discrimination now by law., September 28, 2010, accessed on October 12, 2010 .