France is the primary immigrant destination in Western Europe, and the United States has historically been the melting pot of races from all over the world. According to Simon (1998)’s statistical data illustrating the population of immigrants, between the end of World War II and 2000, there were approximately 14 million new immigrants in the United States while France had about 10 million immigrants. In addition, the United States currently has about 24. 6 million foreigners while there are 3. 6 million foreign born residents in France (Simon, 1998).
The profiles of immigrants are varied – they can be our grandparents, and friends. They come from all over the world for many reasons such as religious persecution, racial tension, poverty and political reasons. Throughout history, immigrants have always had a great impact on a country’s society and its economy that accommodating the influx of new immigrants has been challenging as well. Nonetheless, the integration of immigrants into the society to which they migrate is essential for the future wellbeing of states.
In this paper, the focus shall be on explaining various immigrant integration policies in France and the United States which include social interventions in the aspects of education, religion, culture, housing, workforce, social protection in case of immigrant Muslims in France and immigrant Filipinos in the United States. Furthermore, I would argue that that integration policy in France and the United States reflects the ruling government’s fundamental political ideology. France The French revolution began in 1789 and it established a secular state in France.
The revolution also established a republican ideal which guaranteed religious freedom and imposed the separation of church and the state. Equal rights for all citizens abolished the formal-legal social hierarchy, which gave citizenships to Jews, notwithstanding providing free public education for all including Muslims in Europe. As a result of the gains from the fall of the monarchy, the state ensures that the people of France lives within equal rights under the republican ideal.
As such, the French government does not provide special considerations in public and private law for different religions or political groups to ensure that equal opportunities are afforded to every citizen. According to Adrian Favell’s article, Integration Policy and Integration Research in Europe, there are three parts of the integration/assimilation process of the state: public education, military service, and employment. For many years, the public schools were a key method of integrating immigrants into a society in which the state puts a very high premium on educating the youth regardless of their ethnic, social or religious background.
A second factor that promoted integration was military service during the First World War. Before the war, there were immigrants from various parts of the world who only spoke their ethnic languages, but the French government consolidated ethnic groups together by making them join the military service which helped immigrants to learn French language and republicanism. While most of these groups belonged to their former colonies, it did not preclude the French government from teaching them the cultural system and language of France.
A third factor of integration was employment. Due to the republican and libertarian ideals established by public education and the notion of equal rights, there was limited discrimination in the workplace against ethnic and religious minorities. According to the Stephanie Giry’s article France and its Muslims, she argues that in France, the large Muslim immigrant community has proven to be problematic. There are approximately 6 million people of Muslim background, who mostly come from Algeria and Morocco and other parts of Middle East.
It has been described as problematic because of the perception that Muslim communities are not considered well-integrated into French society. Education levels are often low among Muslims in a backdrop of a pervasive racial discrimination against some Muslims in employment. More so, the French government has refused to grant special privileges to them in public institutions such as disallowing Muslim girls to wear head scarves to class in public schools. (Muslims in Europe)