February 10, 2016
In the current German debate on immigration, reservations and fears about the new arrivals are not confined to the ethnically German population. In November 2015, according to a YouGov survey commission by the Welt am Sonntag newspaper, 40 per cent of Germans with a migration background asserted that Germany ought to take in fewer refugees (compared to 45 per cent of respondents from among the non-immigrant population). 24 per cent supported a complete halt to immigration, as did 25 per cent of Germans without a history of immigration. Conversely, 23 per cent of respondents with a migration background wanted to continue allowing the same number of people into the country; only 8 per cent liked the idea of actually taking in more. (Among the non-immigrant population, these figures were at 20 per cent and 6 per cent, respectively.)
As Yasemin Ergin highlights in an article for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, this picture of a similar scepticism about immigration in the two groups persists. After the events in Cologne on New Years’ Eve, firmly established German citizens with a history of immigration share their compatriots’ sense of insecurity. Some of Ergin’s respondents, all of which had a Turkish or Arab background, indicated that they would vote for the right-wing populist Alternative for Germany party in upcoming elections in order to tighten immigration policies. Many of those interviewed also evinced anxieties linked to the Muslim nature of present-day immigrants: some feared the possibility of jihadi terrorist attacks on German soil, others were afraid of greater pressures towards a more traditionalist understanding of religious observance. These insecurities were compounded by the worry that newly arriving immigrants and their potential misconduct would reflect badly on existing Muslim and immigrant communities and thereby undermine their efforts and successes at carving out a position in German society.