More than 7.3 million people living in Germany are citizens of another country. Along with roughly 115,000 other Americans, I’m part of an insignificant minority, outnumbered by Greeks (355,000), Serbs & Montenegrins (570,000), Poles (480,000) and Italians (601,000). All of us, of course, are outnumbered by Turks (1.88 million). Spare a thought, though, for the 10,000 Aussies and Kiwis, of whom there are far fewer than stateless persons or people of uncertain citizenship (70,000).
All told, people who only hold a foreign citizenship make up 8.9 percent of Germany’s population, a share that has held steady since 1998. Average tenure in the country is 16 years. On average, Slovenes have stayed longest, with 26 years. (The Slovenes up and downstairs from my apartment have got that beat by a good bit.) Spaniards come next at 25, which is only fair given Mallorca, followed by Croats and Austrians (23), Italians and Greeks (22) and Turks (19).
The main reason the share of foreigners has held steady, according to the Statistical Office, is that people who are eligible are taking German citizenship, under a law that went into force in 2000. There are still plenty of problems associated with migration, immigration and integration, but these numbers are basically good signs.
And the next time a conservative German politician says something about the country not being a destination for immigration, please, laugh out loud. It’s the only appropriate response.