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Karen Schönwälder and Triadafilos Triadafilopoulos

This article probes the consequences of Germany's 1999 citizenship reform as it pertains to the incorporation of immigrants. We maintain that the law's principled rejection of dual citizenship and related stipulation that children born into German nationality via the law's revolutionary jus soli provision choose between their German citizenship or that of their non-German parents between the ages of eighteen and twenty-three is unfair, potentially unconstitutional, and likely unworkable in administrative terms. We also argue that the decline in naturalization rates in Germany since 2000 is due to a combination of legal, administrative, and symbolic barriers in the law, as well as a lack of incentives for naturalization for immigrants from European Union member states and other rich industrialized countries. We believe that progress in the area of incorporation will require a shift in outlooks on the part of German political elites, such that immigrants are seen as potential members of a diverse community of free and equal citizens rather than untrustworthy and threatening outsiders.

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Triadafilos Triadafilopoulos and Karen Schönwälder

With the passage of a new citizenship law in 1999 and the so-called

Zuwanderungsgesetz (Migration Law) of 2004, contemporary Germany

has gone a long way toward acknowledging its status as an immigration

country (Einwanderungsland). Yet, Germany is still regarded by

many as a “reluctant” land of immigration, different than traditional

immigration countries such as Canada, the United States, and Australia.

It owes this image to the fact that many of today’s “immigrants”

were in fact “guests,” invited to work in the Federal Republic

in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s and expected to leave when they were

no longer needed. Migration was meant to be a temporary measure,

to stoke the engine of the Economic Miracle but not fundamentally

alter German society. The question, then, is how did these “guest

workers” become immigrants? Why did the Federal Republic

become an immigration country?