Passage of the first “Alien Act” in the FRG



Borders Discrimination & Inequity

The first German “Alien Act” is passed in 1965. It is replaced by a revised version in 1990.

The passage of the Alien Act was a reaction to the intensified immigration of workers in the context of the labor recruitment agreements signed by the Federal Republic of Germany between 1961 and 1968 [see: Bilateral labor recruitment agreements of the FRG, 1960-1968]. Through it, the conditions by which migrants and their families resided in the FRG was to be legally regulated.

The new regulations were largely based on the Alien Policing Ordinance of 1938, which had been reactivated in 1951. They were rooted in the assumption that people residing in the FRG without German citizenship were primarily to be seen as a danger to public security and order and thus subjected to special legal treatment. Within the various federal states different individual regulations were in force, as the states could adjust their own management of alien residency by issuing their own mandates.

The law called for four types of residence permit: (1) general probationary residence permit, (2) temporary residence permit, (3) restricted residence permit, and (4) indefinite residence permit. A so-called discretionary or ‘tolerated’ status was devised as merely a “temporary suspension of deportation proceedings” for foreign citizens required to leave, and thus was not an actual permit. People with this status could not work, but might be allowed a job for the duration of their stay at the discretion of the authorities. Following the introduction of the Asylum Procedure Act in 1982 (LINK, Passage of the Asylum Procedure Act, 1982), people with ‘tolerated’ status were not allowed leave the federal state to which they were assigned (“Mandatory residence” §61 AufenthG). Leaving Germany would cause the status to lapse and would preclude reentry.

The Alien Act went out of force in 2004 and was replaced on January 1, 2005 by the Residence Act [see: Passage of the German Immigration Act, 2005]. Nonetheless, the regulations and practices introduced by the Alien Act continue to have wide-reaching effects on the persons involved.