Immigrant Integration

At the end of World War II, many Europeans were in favor of unity among the countries. Extreme nationalism was seen as the cause of the war that had devastated the country. With the creation of the European Union and the Schengen Agreement, immigration between member states became easier. The sudden influx of immigrants member countries had to create numerous policies to make integrate the migrant population.

The first article I chose is entitled “Beyond National Models: Civic Integration Policies for Immigrants in Western Europe.” It was written by Christian Joppke for the January 2007 issue of West European Politics. In the article, Joppke argues that a feature of the policies created in response to the integration crisis weaken national distinctiveness and only alienate the immigrant population. Joppke profiles three different countries, the Netherlands, France, and Germany. France has shunned any policy aimed to assimilate immigrants. Nicolas Sarkozy has said, “Integration means: ‘I welcome you to the Republican crucible just are you are.’

Assimilation means: “I make you disappear.”” The Netherlands has urged migrants to accept Dutch norms and values in a policy that bares a striking resemblance to France’s integration policy. Before, Germany has been seen as a pariah among migrant-receiving states, but has since adopted the same civic integration and anti-discrimination policies and laws that are present in the rest of Europe. Joppke focuses on one policy in detail: the required civic integration courses and tests for incoming immigrants and compares them among the three countries. Joppke finishes the article by arguing that civic integration is interpreted as an example of repressive liberalism.

Joppke outlines the five basic principles of the EU’s immigration integration policy:

1. “Integration is a dynamic, two-way process of mutual accommodation by all immigrants and residents of the Member States.” The acknowledges that the receiving society as well as the migrants need to change. The society needs to provide full economical, social, cultural, and political opportunities for the immigrants.

2.“Integration implies respect for the basic values of the European Union … the principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the rule of law.”3.Employment is an essential part of the integration process.4.“Basic knowledge of the host society’s language, history, and institutions is indispensable to integration.”5.“Access for immigrants to institutions, as well as to public and private goods and services, on a basis equal to national citizens and in a nondiscriminatory way is a critical foundation for better integration

Joppke then examines the civic integration policy for each featured country in depth. The Netherlands pioneered civic integration for incoming immigrants, but quickly ended up as one of Europe’s biggest socioeconomic integration failures.

The evidence given is that the Netherlands unemployment rate for non-EU immigrants is at three times above that of Dutch citizens, whereas the majority of EU countries have a non-EU migrant unemployment rate of only twice that of native citizens. In 1998, forty-seven percent of all those on welfare in the Netherlands were immigrants, among non-Western foreigners twenty percent depended on welfare which is ten times greater than the welfare dependency of native Dutch.

As far as education, high school drop-out rates were 2.5 times higher for the immigrant population than for Dutch children (nineteen percent for the immigrant population, eight percent for the Dutch) even though ethnic minorities received twice as much state funding.

The last piece of evidence Joppke gives is the housing statistics. Residential segregation is very common in the Netherlands. Amsterdam and Rotterdam’s ethnic quarters the foreign resident rate is above two-thirds, and rising. The last statistic the author gives is the prison population. Since 1997, thirty-two percent of the Dutch prison population was foreigners. I think this evidence is very appropriate, and supports his claim because it reveals how the immigrant population in the Netherlands have failed to successfully integrate into the rest of the Dutch population and are alienated in the social, educational and economic institutions.

The Newcomer Integration Law introduced in 1998 required all migrants to participate in a 12-month integration course which consisted of six hundred hours of Dutch language instruction, civic education, and work study preparation. Even though there were fines attached to non-compliance, they were minor and rarely-enforced which contributed to the further segregation of the immigration population.

Other evidence of the policy failure include events that transpired in the country involving immigrants and Dutch nationals. Joppke makes a point to highlight the assassination of Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn. In the 1980s and 1990s, the Netherlands experienced an influx of Muslim refugees seeking political asylum from countries including Bosnia, Iran, Somalia, Iraq and Pakistan. Fortuyn made several inflammatory statements about Muslims. One such statement printed in the Rotterdams Dagblad, “I am also in favour of a cold war with Islam. I see Islam as an extraordinary threat, as a hostile religion,” further alienated the Muslim population in the Netherlands.

On May 6, 2002, a Dutch national Volkert van der Graaf shot and killed Fortuyn outside a television studio. As a direct result of his death, the Dutch legislative cabinet announced a revision of the civic integration law that would include replacing it’s “respect for diversity” themed policies with those with programs designed to instill dominant Dutch values and morals. The death of Fortuyn only provided a negative atmosphere for the Muslim community.

France, like the Netherlands created a program designed to assimilate the immigrants into society. The French program required 500 hours of French language instruction. Unlike the Netherlands, the majority of the French immigrants hailed from Francophone countries, so the program wasn’t required for many of the newcomers. Many of France’s policies attempted to eliminate unwanted immigration.

In addition to language requirements all new entrants above 16 years are obliged to enter into an ‘integration contract,’ and have to pass it’s requirements, including a French language test. It is now obligatory for the renewal of residence permits, including obtaining the all-important ten-year card that establishes permanent residence rights.

Germany offered language courses to prospective immigrants and made ‘status tests’ mandatory for those who wished to enter the country which included 600 hours of German language instruction and 30 hours of civics instruction. Despite creating an inviting environment for the incoming immigrants that celebrated the differences, Germany failed to make the class mandatory for all. Germany has also experienced high amounts of separatism and ethnic violence in the public school systems.

Even though the policies created were designed to integrate and not assimilate they only created more divides between the immigrants and the native population. The Dutch included pictures of nude women in it’s assimilation DVD which was offensive to the Muslim population.

The evidence Joppke provides prove his argument by outlining each of the immigration integration policies provide by the Netherlands, France, and Germany. Each policy, while trying to help incoming migrants adjust to their lives in a new country, helped in creating a divide between the native population and the immigrants. Joppke proves his hypothesis.

The second article I read is titled, “Do Immigrant Integration Policies Matter? A Three-Country Comparison among Turkish Immigrants.” The article was written by Evelyn Ersanilli and Ruud Koopmans and published in West European Politics in March 2011. This article focuses exclusively on Turkish immigrants but provides information from the same three countries (the Netherlands, France, Germany). Ersanilli and Koopmans investigate which policies affect actual levels of immigrant integration and what effects they have on the immigrant population.

The article focuses on one clearly circumscribed immigrant group, namely immigrants from selected parts of rural Turkey who arrived in the countries of destination before 1975, as well as their direct descendants.

For the destination country, the authors focus on Germany, France, and the Netherlands, where more than seventy percent of people of Turkish origin in the European Union live. Ersanilli and Koopmans determine that there are two independent dimensions of socio-cultural integration, namely the degree to which immigrants maintain their culture of origin (ethnic retention) and the degree to which they adopt the host country’s culture (host culture adoption).

The authors investigate four common indicators of retention and adoption: identification, language use and proficiency, interethnic social contacts, and religious observance. Ersanilli and Koopmans explore the effects of destination country effects, and question to what extent different theories of integration policy effects are able to predict cross-national differences.

The authors first discuss accommodation of diversity which includes such issues as Muslim headscarves, and the restrictions that the governments of the Netherlands, France and Germany have placed on the wearing of them. Then they highlight the access to individual citizen rights and how easy (or hard) it is to become a citizen in each featured country.

Then Ersanilli and Koopmans use their results to determine the ethnic retention among Turkish immigrants by measuring it in terms of identification, language proficiency (the host countries’ language), and religious observance. Host culture adoption is less likely to occur when policies demand from immigrants, by way of assimilation requirements or restrictions on expressions of ethnic and religious difference, that they distance themselves from their culture of origin.

The evidence used in the Ersanilli and Koopmans article is far more empirical. The authors include four tables to showcase their findings. I think that they evidence used in this article precise in this article then the previous one because it focuses solely on one immigrant group (Turkish). The previous article concentrated on the immigrant population as a whole. The Ersanilli and Koopmans article also provided many models to illustrate the effects of immigration policy to the reader. The information presented in the article appropriately illustrates the policy differences between the three countries (the Netherlands, France, Germany) and how Turkish immigrants assimilate and integrate into the community.

The second article did a much better job of proving it’s argument then the first. Even though I thought the argument presented in the first article was sound and plausible but was vague at times. The second article succeeded where the first failed by only showcasing one immigrant group. By narrowing the scope to one nationality, it was easier to see the affects of the immigration policy. The first article did not provide any models for it’s data which would have proven the argument even further.

In both articles, I felt that personal testimony would have helped further prove their respective arguments. Even though both articles proved that there is a divide between EU member states and incoming immigrants, we failed to see why. In the first article is was mentioned that Muslim immigrants were reluctant to integrate into Dutch society, but why? If we had personal testimony then it could have provided insight into the immigrant experience in the Netherlands, France, and Germany.