How are immigrants treated in Germany

Is it really the case that the views of many Germans and their fears are seen in the same way by immigrants? How do the immigrants see themselves? The Allensbach Institute for Demoscopy got to the bottom of the questions at the beginning of 2016. In the survey, almost three quarters of the respondents said that they fear that Europe would not be able to cope with the influx of refugees, that they were afraid that the refugees would increase crime and that the refugees would put a heavy strain on the social system.

Not only AfD supporters are in public with this opinion. The feeling of being overwhelmed and the fear of losing one's cultural identity permeates broad sections of the population.

In an Allensbach survey from 2015, supporters of the Greens also distanced themselves from the thesis that Islam now belongs to Germany with a clear relative majority. The defensive reactions from supporters of the other parties were even greater.

There are a number of indications that the social climate towards foreigners in Germany would also have become harsher in everyday life.

In a representative survey by the Allensbach Institute in May 2016 for the FAZ Significant parts of the population are concerned. When asked how foreigners who have been living in Germany for a long time felt here, over half said that foreigners are now more distrustful than in the past. Almost half assume that they are viewed by Germans as foreigners and around one third think that foreigners would feel condescendingly treated by Germans. Although 41 percent also believed that most foreigners felt comfortable in Germany, only 23 percent suspect that they led a “completely normal life” in which their foreign origin does not play a role in everyday life.

Checking it with a representative population survey of people with a migration background is not easy. In addition to many other characteristics such as age, gender and denomination, the migration background was also asked. In this way, the answers of 338 people with a migration background are available. These are people who were willing and able to take part in a longer opinion research interview in German. The group of those who are not sufficiently proficient in the German language or who isolate themselves from the German majority society is closed to this survey. Despite this caveat, the survey results show that migrants perceive the social climate as far less aggressive than one might assume given the current public debates.

The interviewed migrants were also presented with a similar list with twelve attitudes towards life and experiences. The answers to this question, i.e. the descriptions of the immigrants' own impressions and feelings, differ very significantly from the point of view of Germans without a migration background. In the first place of the statements most frequently mentioned by the migrants is with 69 percent: "I feel good in Germany." Almost two thirds say Germany is their home, followed by almost as many who like life and culture in Germany. More than half say that their foreign roots played no role at all in their everyday lives. Negative experiences, e.g. B. Insults because of their foreign origin or because of condescending treatment made only eight to ten percent. The number of those who demarcate themselves emotionally from Germany is even lower: only five percent say they do not feel particularly connected to Germany and only two percent feel foreign in Germany.

The answers given by Muslims among immigrants are noticeably different. However, their share in the total number of respondents is so small that their answers can only be interpreted as rough hints. After all, the positive impressions outweigh them, too. A narrow majority say they feel at home in Germany and call Germany their home, around two fifths state that their foreign origin does not play a role in their everyday life. But around a third report that they have already been insulted by Germans because of their foreign origin, just under a third complain about the occasional condescending treatment, and around a fifth have the feeling that they are more distrustful than before.

The experiences of most (German-speaking) immigrants appear to be positive in everyday German life, and many more of them also identify with Germany than the local population thinks. Only 13 percent of Germans can imagine that most foreigners who have lived here for a long time feel like Germans. Almost half of the respondents even suspect that the foreigners living here feel more connected to their country of origin. On the other hand, if you ask the immigrants themselves, 58 percent say that they feel primarily German and only 24 percent name another nation.

It is remarkable how little the immigrants surveyed differ from the population as a whole in terms of their ideology and attitude to life. As an example of this, the party preference was queried. The differences are only marginal. Even the AfD, which 10 percent of Germans without a migrant background found the most likable, does not have much fewer supporters among immigrants at 7 percent. The Muslims surveyed do not express themselves very differently either, but they are somewhat closer to the Greens.

The everyday life of the now many well-integrated immigrants in Germany seems to be far less affected than one might assume given the shrill tones in the public discussion. Overall, there is a certain tension in society and a not insignificant number of immigrants have had unpleasant experiences. However, these are mainly to be found under the proportion of less well-integrated immigrants.