It’s time we stop asking ‘where are you from?’ in Germany

When a study published last week revealed that foreigners in Germany with a visible migration background experience discrimination far more often than foreigners who appear “typically German,” it resonated with The Local’s Shelley Pascual.

Flags in Stuttgart (l) and people obtaining German citizenship (r). Photos: DPA

In the study, carried out by the Council of German Foundations on Integration and Migration (SVR), responses from over 5,000 immigrants and people with a migrant background across Germany were collected.

Of those who described their appearance as “typically German,” around 17 percent stated they felt disadvantaged because of their roots. By contrast, 48 percent of participants with a visible immigration background (e.g. those who have dark skin or wear a headscarf) reported having experienced discrimination.

According to these respondents, discrimination can come in many forms: violence, unfairness with regard to the search for jobs and housing, offensive statements as well as statements that may not necessarily be considered negative by the person saying it – including the often-asked question, “where are you actually from?”

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2017 Toronto Conference on Germany

Populism, immigration and the upcoming federal election in Germany were discussed at University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs on 8 April 2017.

An annual event in Toronto, this conference examines the relationship between Germany and Canada as well as issues of politics, the economy, foreign affairs and business from the perspectives of both countries.

This year, politicians, media representatives, scholars, students, the German community and members of the public came together for a full day to discuss the state of the union in what is arguably Europe’s most substantial country.

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90-day travel ban: How I became an illegal alien in Germany

When I flew from Toronto to Berlin in January, I had no idea I was breaking the law. 

My family came to visit me in Germany back in 2014. At the time, I had been living in a city called Braunschweig for two years. I officially left Braunschweig in late 2015.

 

On the same day I found out, I booked a last minute flight from Frankfurt to Toronto.

I had less than 48 hours to pack my life into a suitcase before I flew home. Home home.

Even though I’d just been home! I’d spent three weeks in Toronto over the Christmas holidays and I flew back to Germany via Berlin in early January.

I had only been back across the pond for a month before I was told I had to leave.

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