Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2803

Article | Open Access

On “Genuine” and “Illegitimate” Refugees: New Boundaries Drawn by Discriminatory Legislation and Practice in the Field of Humanitarian Reception in Germany

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Abstract:  A high number of legal changes accompanied the increase of people seeking asylum in Germany throughout the 18th legislative period from 2013–2017. These changes have transformed the field of humanitarian reception in Germany, especially along the axes of citizenship, integration performance and deviation from administrative and legal rules. Half of the legal measures from this period have led to differential rights for different groups of asylum seekers according to one of these three axes. The axis of citizenship has also structured the development of administrative procedures referred to as “integrated refugee management” which was established to speed up asylum seeking processes, classifying persons applying for a humanitarian residence visa in Germany into four clusters. This categorization, too, led to different entitlements regarding the admittance to state-financed German courses and integration measures focussed on education and the labour market. In this article I employ the notion of differential inclusion (Mezzadra & Neilson, 2012) to analyse these legal and administrative changes. I show that they have reshaped the substructures impacting the lives of those categorized as “genuine” and “illegitimate” refugees and thus redrawn the boundaries and created hierarchies among those seeking humanitarian protection in Germany.

Keywords:  differential inclusion; Germany; humanitarian reception; integration; refugee management



© Anne-Kathrin Will. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.