The New Germans
There is really only one last hurdle to Germany officially becoming a land of immigrants, and it is politics. The centre-right Christian Democratic Union, led by Angela Merkel, and its conservative Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union, insist on the fiction that Germany does not have permanent “immigrants” (Einwanderer) but rather temporary “in-comers” (Zuwanderer), such as guest workers, who will one day leave.
This is a travesty of reality and deserves the ridicule that the centre-left parties are meting out. In 2014 a law was tweaked that makes it easier for most children born in Germany to foreign parents to keep both citizenships indefinitely. But beyond this mini-liberalisation, Germany remains unusual among rich countries in having a patchwork of rules for special situations (spouses of Germans, say), but no coherent immigration law at all.
In 2016 Germany will pass such a law, because even the Christian Democrats will admit what is already obvious: Germany has become an immigrant country—a land of hope and opportunity to many who, in turn, simply by coming, keep Germany’s ageing society vibrant. The notion of identity by blood died long ago. In 2016 Germans will formally lay it to rest, and will take great pride in doing so.