Aliens in Germany

Every time there is a war at least one country has to deal with the consequences left behind. After World War II numerous countries had to face reconstruction because they were damaged economically as well as physically. One of these countries was Germany. During the reconstruction of the country a large number of foreign laborers, also known as Gastarbeiter, came to Germany due to the shortage of a native workforce. After the economy stabilized Germany kept importing labor rather than taking industry, capital and jobs offshore in search of lower labor costs.

Workers, especially from Turkey, Yugoslavia, Poland, Italy and Greece came with their families to seek work. The Gastarbeiter were expected to return to their countries after the economy recovered, but that never happened. Instead all workers stayed and even more came to find a job in one of Europes better developing countries. Soon the initially welcomed foreign workforce soon began to bother the German people and it turned out to be the source of several problems especially concerning the economy in Germany. Today Germany has a population of 82. 163. 500 people with 7. 3. 600 people representing the foreign part (German Facts).

The largest problem that is related to the Auslander (foreigner) is unemployment. Some German people say that the Auslander is the cause of why the unemployment rate in Germany is extremely high. The Spiegel reports that in July of 2000 there were 4. 027. 200 unemployed people in Germany, which is 10. 3 % of the population. It is very easy for people from outside the country to enter into Germany and be eligible to work. Whenever a foreigner comes to Germany to seek work he first has to get a residence permit.

Bhagwati writes that residence permits may stipulate geographic areas and time limits. At first, a residence permit is granted for one year only and is tied to designated employment. A foreigner who has been in Germany legally for at least five years and is considered to have integrated himself into the economic and social life is eligible to receive a domicile permit (Aufenthaltsberechtigung). Once granted, the permit allows its holder to move within the country without restrictions. Work permits are issued by the federal Labor Office (Bundesanstalt fur Arbeit).

All aliens intending to work in Germany need a work permit. There are two classes of work permits. One is a general permit, issued normally for one year and geared to the labor conditions prevailing, or to special needs of certain industries. The other permit is a special work permit (Besondere Arbeitserlaubnis), issued to aliens who have had a steady employment record for the preceding five years, or who have been living in Germany legally for the last eight years or more or who are married to a German citizen (Bhagwati 1984, 279).

The majority of the German people thought, and still thinks today, that if there are no foreign workers, there will be considerable less unemployment. This is a tolerable thought but this problem has also to be looked at from a different perspective. The article, A Whiff of Xenophobia states, that While the German economic miracle was in full swing, the Gastarbeiter (guest worker) were regarded as a necessary, if not always desirable, adjunct to economic success, without whom many of the less attractive jobs – in hotels and catering, car production and mining among others – would have been left undone (The Economist 1984, 23).

This article explains that foreign workers are prepared to perform tasks, which German unemployed people refuse to do. Every year there are thousands of work permits issued to foreigners because it is not possible to find a German worker who is willing to do the work when offered. As foreigners look for every chance to earn the Deutschmark (German currency), no matter what job or under what conditions, Germans think that they are too delicate to get their hands dirty. German industry was able to increase its productive capacity through the utilization of foreign labor.

Foreign employment eliminated industrial gaps by filling undesirable but vital jobs which would have otherwise remained vacant. Markovits and Kazarinov agree that … the indigenous workers have occupied the well-paid and socially desirable jobs, leaving the under-paid, dangerous and socially-degrading positions to be filled by migrant workers (Markovits and Kazarinov 1978, 376). Jobs are available but the number is limited and it is difficult for everyone foreigner to get one. Money is needed to survive and satisfy ones needs and this is not always honestly earned.

A vast number of Germanys foreigners are in some way connected to crime. The majority of people coming to Germany want to earn money as fast and as easy as possible. This is not always accomplished by getting an honest job, but by crime and corruption. Of the 209. 800 foreigners living in Germany, 2. 8% have a criminal record (German Facts). This number appears to be high when compared to the 1. 1% of the German population with a criminal record. Some of the foreigners enter a vicious circle from which it is impossible to escape.

Prostitution, for example, is mainly ruled by foreigners who belong to underground organizations. Prostitution in Germany, as well as in many other countries, is a very serious and sad concern. Young women and girls are bought in Eastern European countries and brought to Germany against their will. Living under inhumane conditions, the women have to pay a certain amount of money to their panderer everyday and if they do not, they are beaten up or even killed. Because crime is connected with a large number of the foreign population, animosity builds towards them.

The consequences are that politicians have urged a halt to immigration and called for the expulsion of foreigners found guilty of crime as well as their families. The Turks are especially disliked by the Germans because they represent the largest group of the foreigners in Germany. Out of 7. 363. 600 foreigners living in Germany, 2. 053. 600 are Turks (German Facts). In 1984, according to the article, Eastern Promise, there were already 1. 5 million Turks in West Germany, which comprised the largest group of the countrys 4. 5 million foreign residents.

With two and one-half million people unemployed in West Germany, the Turks are the focus of a good deal of resentment-though unemployment has affected them more than it has West Germans (The Economist 1984, 47). This provides evidence that foreigners are not the main reason for high unemployment in Germany. Because of the existing tension, it is more difficult for a foreigner to find a job than it is for a German. Another reason the Turks are disliked by the Germans is because of their differing culture. It seems that some foreigners are more equal to Germans than others.

Italians and Greeks, for example, can come and go as they please, courtesy of the EEC (The Economist 1984, 24). The Turks are the ones who are most obviously foreign. Germans notice that Turks eat lots of garlic, which causes bad breath. Notice is also made of the large number of children per Turk family. The Muslim religion forces women to wear a veil to which some Germans take utmost offense. They also have large family picnics and barbeques in public parks where they eat, drink and sing, which is also seen as unusual and offensive because these are things a German would not do.

It is difficult not only for Turks but also for every foreigner to adapt to a new environment. Coming from countries with cultures and climates differing from those of the new society and. moreover, frequently originating from the least industrialized regions of their native lands, they must adapt not only to the obvious changes arising from transporting from one social context to another, but most contend with their subordinate socioeconomic status in the advanced industrial society they have entered.

Those cultural differences, the high unemployment rate, and other negative stereotypes lead to xenophobia, discrimination and racism. The seemingly uncontrollable influx of foreigners led to anti-foreigner violence by neo-Nazi and other extremist groups and to a more general public clamor to cut back the flow of aliens. The Economist writes The neo-Nazis who recently bludgeoned a Mozambican to death in a park in Dessau, some 100 km south-west of Berlin, said bluntly they had acted out of Fremdenhass: hatred of foreigners. (The Economist 2000, 33).

The anti-foreigner organizations are well organized and difficult to uncover. Secret meetings are held and with the use of the Internet, important messages can be sent and received worldwide. The police are helpless and there is not much they can do about it. Neo-Nazis and other extremists also meet in public to demonstrate and as long as their purpose does not include violence, nothing is done by the officials to curb their protest. The police are meant to protect all people in an equal way; however, in many cases police violence appears to have been racially motivated.

More often complaints of ill treatment by police officers are reported. The Wochenendmagazin (Dortmund newspaper) reports about such an incident. An Algerian asylum seeker alleged that he had been ill treated by Dortmund police officers in March 1998. He claimed that he had been stopped in the street in the early hours of the morning by two uniformed police officers, which had told him to raise his hands. When he had asked why, he was reportedly told to shut his mouth. He was taken to a place where a crime had allegedly been committed in order to see whether the victims recognized him as the perpetrator.

When it became apparent that he had nothing to do with the crime, he was told to go away. At this point he became upset and suggested that he had been arrested only because he was a foreigner. He claimed that one of the officers then jumped at him and violently twisted his right arm behind his back while other officers had pushed him to the ground and kicked him. The officers, in contrast, alleged that he had sworn and spat at them and had become aggressive. He was then taken to a police station. On the way, officers subjected him to racist insults such as calling him a censoredty foreigner.

At the station, a doctor diagnosed his arm broken and said he required immediate hospital care. According to medical reports, he also suffered extensive bruising of his left arm, swelling and abrasions to the right side of his face and bruising of his jaw. Investigations were later opened into the allegations of ill treatment and the officers allegations that he had resisted them and used insulting behavior. In December, the Algerian was informed by the prosecuting authorities that his compliant of ill treatment had been rejected (Wochenendmagazin 1998, 4).

Another problem, which Germany is not able to cope with, is the high number of refugees trying to seek asylum every year. The famous Article 16 of the West German Karanovic7 Basic Law, which granted an almost unconditional right to asylum for any individual fleeing persecution, was written with refugees from the past in mind, especially ethnic German refugees (Hollifield 1994, 185). Hollifield shows that the German government was not specific enough with their law concerning the right for asylum.

Whitney explains in his article The World, Europeans Redefine What Makes A Citizen that citizenship, immigration and asylum are all connected issues. After the unification of Germany in 1990, refugees began pouring into the country and in 1992, 438. 191 people from the Balkans, Central Europe and elsewhere-claimed political asylum in Germany. Until 1993, German asylum law entitled anyone who set foot on German soil to make a claim and to make years of appeals if the claim was denied. In order to get control over the situation the asylum law had to change.

In 1993, the German Parliament changed the asylum law to make it possible for German authorities to repel unqualified applicants at the point of entry (Whitney 1996, 6). When the war in Yugoslavia started a large number of Bosnian war refugees sought asylum in Germany, which welcomed the refugees with open arms and helped them as well as they could. Accommodation, money for food and clothes were placed at their disposal. This hospitality soon turned to disfavor. Besides the money the refugees received, they tried to earn extra money by working illegally.

It is not to blame that Germans become tired of refugees and do not agree to pay taxes for the well being of all asylum seekers in their country. The plan was to send back the Bosnians as soon as possible. The return of the Bosnian war refugees was planned to be completed by August 1992. This provoked strong criticism of the politicians in charge of the situation because continuing ethnic tensions in Bosnia provided unfavorable conditions for return. Returnees often found no means of sustaining their existence and were rejected by the local population.

Besides the concern with legal aliens, Germany has to fight back the illegal aliens who try to smuggle their way into the country. Smugglers put as many people as possible in a vehicle to increase their profit. Border patrol officers have found vehicles with people so tightly packed that some of them narrowly escaped suffocation. Smuggling renewed its popularity during the war in Kosovo when Kosovar Albanians attempted to enter Germany illegally. Of all the possibilities, the country of choice has long been Germany with a stable and growing economy.

Under the Nationality Act of 1913, which remains the law today, citizenship is based on the principle of jus sanguinis (i. e. by right of blood or descent rather than by jus soli or place of birth). Because of this policy, it is easier for a non-German speaking ethnic German from Eastern Europe to acquire German citizenship than it is for a third-generation resident alien who is fluent in the language and thoroughly privy to German ways but whose ancestors came from Turkey (Kommers 1997, 205). Not every foreigner wants to have a German citizenship only but a dual citizenship.

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