Contested Health Care System in Berlin: Are Illegalized Migrants Becoming Urban Citizens?

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2803

Article | Open Access

Contested Health Care System in Berlin: Are Illegalized Migrants Becoming Urban Citizens?


  • Holger Wilcke Berlin Institute of Migration and Integration Research, Humboldt University of Berlin, Germany
  • Rosa Manoim Department of Social Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa


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Abstract:  This article argues for an urban citizenship perspective which explores the struggle for rights and the everyday practices of illegalized migrants. Analyzing the concept of Anonymized Health Certificates as a result of such a struggle allows for examination of urban citizenship in this context. The implementation of the Anonymized Health Certificates program would facilitate access to medical care for people who live in the city of Berlin but are excluded from this right due to their lack of residency status. However, such a perspective also makes it possible to examine the limitation of the Anonymized Health Certificates, which would allow illegalized migrants in Berlin to circumvent access barriers, while at the same time the exclusion mechanisms of these barriers would remain uncontested at the national level. Whilst Anonymize Health Certificates will greatly improve access to medical care, illegalized migrants have by no means been passive subjects and have been actively rejecting their exclusion from health care: Practices include sharing health insurance cards with friends, visiting doctors who help for free as a form of solidarity, and sharing information about these doctors within their social networks. Even if they do not contest the social order visibly, they refuse to passively accept their social exclusion. Illegalized migrants perform such practices of urban citizenship in their everyday life as they actively take ownership of their rights to participate in urban life, even whilst being formally denied these rights.

Keywords:  Anonymized Health Certificates; illegalized migration; medical care; urban citizenship

Published:   28 November 2019


DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/si.v7i4.2331


© Holger Wilcke, Rosa Manoim. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.