Why is Austrias rich tradition as a country of both emigration and immigration so thoroughly neglected in current debates about the admission of refugees and economic migrants? This essay sketches eight chapters in the history of Austrias migration policy since the late Habsburg monarchy and finds some strong continuities. The most conspicuous ones are: attempts to ensure a rapid transit of refugees to other destinations; strong legal barriers to the full integration of settled immigrant workers; rules for the acquisition of citizenship which ignore partial and dual affiliations among immigrants and the membership claims of second and third generations of immigrant descent; definitions of nationhood that do not allow for ethnic diversity resulting from immigration. The paper argues that Austrian migration policy has not only been driven by public interests in internal and external security, economic growth and social welfare, but also by symbolic uses of migrants in politics. Political discourses which defined immigrants as outsiders have been instrumental in shaping the ideological profile of parties as well as the boundaries of an insecure national identity.
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