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Undocumented immigration
The Situation of “People without papers” in Germany

Social welfare organisations estimate that between 500.000 and one million “people without papers” live in Germany without regulated residency status, around 100.000 of them in Berlin.

"People without papers" are a part of our society, but live in constant fear of detection and deportation.

The stories of their migration and the reasons for their life in illegality vary. Totalitarian regimes, economic exploitation, social injustice and war force people to flee their home countries. Frequently, Western societies are directly and indirectly involved in the creation and continuation of these conflicts. Because very few of these reasons are recognised as valid in German asylum and immigrations law many asylum seekers and migrants are forced into illegality.

But while the reasons for such an ‘illegal’ life may differ, the results are the same: current legislation denies people without papers access to education, work and health care.


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We speak of “people without papers” or “illegalised” people, because the often used term “Illegal immigrants” does not convey well the life situation of these people. “Illegal” implies criminality and taking part in an act of crime. However, the only laws broken in these cases are those of the legislation on aliens.