Glossary: refugee, migrant, foreigner

Again and again, terms such as "people with a migration background""refugee" are used or "migrant" mixed. An overview of the most important expressions, and why they are often used incorrectly.

Migrant symbol

Is the teacher with headscarf now of Turkish origin, does she have a migrant background, or is she an immigrant? When is someone a migrant, when is someone a refugee and when is someone a refugee?? There are many examples where certain terms are unclear or wrongly used synonymously.

"Foreigner": A problematic term

In the past, people in Germany made it easy for themselves: for a long time, people without a German passport were simply considered to be "foreigner." refers to. The term, simply put, describes a person in Germany without German citizenship. In fact, however, the term is now avoided because it arouses very negative connotations and is instrumentalized by right-wing extremists.

"Migrant background": Bureaucratic and old-fashioned

In place of the term "Foreigner" With the new citizenship law of 2000 at the latest, the term "immigrant" came into use "People with a migration background". With the reform, the focus shifted to people with dual citizenship, whom no term had previously described appropriately.

Word Cloud Foreigners DE

Initially, the term "People with a migration background The term "asylum seekers" was used primarily in the administration, but then also in everyday language. According to a definition by the Federal Statistical Office, it describes foreigners living in Germany, naturalized Germans who immigrated to the Federal Republic after 1949, and children born in Germany with German passports whose migration background derives from at least one parent.

This is a large, heterogeneous group. This has led to the fact that especially those people who live in Germany in the second or third generation are familiar with the term "people with a migration background" can no longer identify. It no longer describes the reality of their lives and has negative connotations, many say. The New German Media Makers, a nationwide organization of media professionals with and without a history of migration, therefore held a workshop in 2014 to find new terms and establish. Four alternative proposals emerged: Diverscultural, Intercultural, People with an international history and People with an immigration history.

In the case of one particular group, there is another separate word that is popularly used: of Turkish origin. According to the New German Media makers, it often replaces the formerly common term "Turks" and takes into account that almost half of them are now German citizens. However, in a glossary published by the organization, they recommend using the term "Turkish", as many immigrants from Turkey are Kurds or members of other minorities and do not consider themselves to be "Turkish" understand.

"migrant", "Refugee", "Immigrant": The thing about immigration

Things get complicated when it comes to people who, by all appearances, have not been living in Germany for long. Especially the term "Migrant" is misleading. According to the Federal Statistical Office, it describes people who were not born on the territory of the present-day Federal Republic of Germany, but who live here. What many do not know: About half of the migrants are now Germans. This includes, for example, Spataussiedler. In the context of global migration movements, the term "migrants" describes people who leave their homes and become "refugees". It does not matter why or for how long they leave. Migrants leave, for example, because they hope to find a good job elsewhere.

Migrants Symbol

This distinguishes migrants from "refugees". Although they also belong to the group of migrants, they have been living in Germany for a long time a leave their country for a specific reason: they flee violence or persecution. However, people are not automatically refugees as soon as they enter another country. They are initially "Asylum seekers. Only when their request for asylum is recognized are they officially considered refugees. The media service Integration, an information platform of the "Council for Migration", therefore recommends, should one wish to be more specific, the terms "refugees" or "Protection seekers" to use.

Also terms often used incorrectly in this context are "immigrant" and "Immigrants. While "Immigrants" according to the glossary of the New German Media Makers first describes people who move to Germany are "Immigrants" People who have come to stay permanently.

"Southern", "People of Color": Describing Appearance

In recent years, there has been an increase in debates revolving around a person’s appearance. For example, when in wanted persons reports "southern appearance" the speech is. Especially the latter is criticized by the New German Media Makers as being too imprecise – both geographically and biographically. Because the persons mentioned could also have been born in Germany, although the term does not indicate this.

The expression "People of Color on the other hand, is a self-designation and, according to a glossary by the Amadeu Antonio Foundation, a German foundation that deals primarily with right-wing extremism, is supposed to mean "people who have experienced racism." Describe. The term marks a political social position and is understood as emancipatory and solidary.

What is a "German?

Basically, the term describes "German" a person with a German nationality. But the New German Media Makers argue that the term should not be limited to Germans of origin alone. Because almost a quarter of Germans come from an immigrant family. From this point of view then of course "person with a migration background" or a "Person of Color" a German.

The editorial staff recommends

Comment: "Please don’t let it be a foreigner"

What happened at Frankfurt’s main train station on Monday shocked people in Germany. But those with foreign roots are particularly affected, says Erkan Arikan. (31.07.2019)

Glossary: flight, asylum, immigration

Migrant, refugee, asylum seeker, immigrant: many terms, and even experts sometimes get confused. DW explains. (21.08.2018)

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