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Guest worker

Since the beginning of the 1960s, the term “guest worker” was used to describe migrant workers in West Germany. The migrant workers came to West Germany’s following the federal government’s bilateral labour recruitments agreements with Southern European countries as well as North African countries and South Korea. These agreements were effective from 1955 until the ban on labour recruitment in 1973. West Germany did not provide any infrastructure to facilitate the migrants’ permanent settlement, as they were supposed to only stay temporarily, hence the term “guest workers”. While 11 of the 14 million migrant labourers did leave the country after a short period of time, around three million decided to settle permanently and brought their families with to live with them. Today, the term is still commonly used in everyday speech to describe the former labour migrants and their descendants, a lot of whom became German citizens or were born as German citizens due to the changes in German citizenship law. The continuous use of the term illustrates the former labour migrants’ still existing marginalisation and discrimination.