This paper aims to combine an overview of how in the last five decades immigration policies developed in Germany with illustrations of how regulations for family migration changed in the same period. The demographic figures presented indicate that, although many political attempts have been made to restrict family migration from Turkey to Germany, the inflow of spouses and children has continued as a normal part of migration dynamics between both countries. Based on these observations, the main argument of this paper is that the political debate concerning regulating and restricting (family) migration to Germany that took place from the 1960s until the early 2000s contained important elements of symbolic politics that were predominantly used to highlight and preserve the idea that Germany was not an immigration country. After the adoption of the Immigration Act in 2005, this idea was replaced by a perspective that acknowledged the fact of immigration, but at the same time sought to steer and limit migration and facilitate integration processes.