The term used by German statisticians and politicians to denote foreigners and their descendants has been "people with a migration background." That was the label given to people who weren't born into German citizenship. And to people whose mothers or fathers were not born German citizens.
Today, that applies to a quarter of the population.
A specialist commission of 24 politicians and academics appointed by the government has submitted its report to Chancellor Angela Merkel. One of its recommendations is to stop using the terms "migration background" or "immigrant background." Instead, people should use the term "immigrants and their descendants," commission chair Derya Caglar said. "In my case, this would mean that I am no longer the migrant, but rather the daughter or descendant of migrants," as her parents had immigrated from Turkey but she was born here. "And my children, who are currently defined as having a migration background, would simply be Germans," she said.
Annette Widmann-Mauz, of the Christian Democrats (CDU), is in favor of the change. The term "migration background" encompasses so many groups now that it has lost much of its meaning.
"Many of the 21 million people to which the term is applied do not feel appropriately described by it," she said. Widmann-Mauz said nearly one-third of people to whom the term "migration background" is applied were born in Germany. The term, she said, gives the impression "that they would never belong here 100%, that immigration was their defining characteristic."