This paper deals with the impact of the formal principle of membership on the public and scholarly narratives of immigrants' presence in society. It argues that 'ghetto' is a root metaphor of German political culture and explores how this concept, which situates minorities in stigmatised ethno-cultural sites in the city, confines the frameworks and the terminology of immigration debates and the representation of immigrants in the social imaginary in Germany. The ghetto trope of immigrant discourse in Berlin reduces the inscription of difference and belonging in urban space to a simple model of seclusion based on ethnic ties. This constructs a blindness to the transnational spaces of German Turks which provide an arena for the reimagination and negotiation of Turkish immigrants' sociality and belonging to Berlin beyond the given categories of ethnicity and community.