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Published May 3, 2024 | Version v1
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The Legal and Policy Infrastructure of Irregularity: Germany

  • 1. ROR icon University of Applied Sciences Mainz
  • 2. Catholic Forum "Living in Illegality"


The report discusses the evolution of migration policies and their impact on irregularised migrants in Germany, emphasizing the non-essential yet impactful nature of irregularity as produced by a complex network of legal, social and economic conditions and practices. It provides a historical overview of migration patterns in Germany, highlighting the shift from guest-worker recruitment to industrial labour migration and the associated challenges of integration. The following analysis focuses on the last 20 years (2004-2023), examining general trends, legal frameworks, and the intersection of migration with employment, social reproduction, and welfare regimes, drawing from academic literature, policy documents, interviews with key stakeholders as well as a first stakeholder group meeting in January 2024. Section 3 of the report provides an overview of general trends and features of migrant irregularity as well as available statistical information on irregularised migrants in Germany. Section 4 details the national legal and policy framework, especially recent changes in the light of ‘crises’ and national politics, existing routes in and out of irregularity as well as ‘lane changes’ between different legal titles of residency, and the situation regarding deportation and the criminalisation of irregularised migrants. Section 5 then addresses the entanglement of irregularity with employment, labour markets, migrant households (including gender and generational dimensions) as well as race and ethnicity.


The Legal and Policy Infrastructure of Irregularity. Germany.pdf

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