Germany Strives to Integrate Immigrants
New Migration Information Source Article Released in Advance of Integration Summit
WASHINGTON -- German Chancellor Angela Merkel will unveil a National Integration Plan on July 12 as Germany concludes its EU Presidency. In advance of the Integration Summit to be held in Berlin, the Migration Information Source has released an analysis of Germany’s latest reforms to promote immigrant integration.
MPI researcher Eric Leise finds that Germany’s new policies bring the country closer to meeting Europe’s Common Basic Principles, standards each EU country has agreed to incorporate into its national integration strategy. Particularly notable have been the German government’s engagement of actors and community representatives from a variety of sectors to participate in ongoing dialogues about integration strategies, including about Islam’s role in society. Also noteworthy are the high rates of immigrant participation in language and civics education courses. By March 2007, more than 100,000 people had completed these courses, which are now more targeted toward particular immigrant groups.
However, hurdles to full civic engagement remain. Despite recognition by government-sponsored integration working groups of the need to improve immigrant youth's access to higher education and to higher-skilled jobs, policies to facilitate this have yet to be established. Islam, the religion of the largest number of permanent immigrants in Germany, has not been granted the same legal status as Judaism, Catholicism and Protestantism. Naturalization laws have become stricter, and the drop in the number of people becoming German citizens may be due in large part to a prohibition on dual citizenship. The effect of this law has been especially profound for permanent resident Turks in Germany, who make up the largest immigrant community.
Mr. Leise analyzes developments in Germany’s integration policy as they measure up against each of the Common Basic Principles, noting, “The German government’s dedication to achieving immigrant integration is unquestionable; it’s a matter of how long it will take to institute policies that fully facilitate this two-way process.”