Germany embraces migrants but worries about integration
Berlin - “We’ll do it,” Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel promised during a September television interview when she tackled the question of Syrian and Iraqi migrants.
Germany follows the United States as one of the destinations most coveted by migrants, whose numbers have swelled due to rising Middle East tensions.
It hopes, but does not expect, that many newcomers are there to stay. About 19% of Germany’s population is of foreign origin, with the largest such community Turkish. Others have recently arrived from Poland, Romania and Bulgaria.
Germany expects the number of Syrians and Iraqis to range between 800,000 to 1 million. The nation’s policy of open doors to migrants is backed by many Germans, the media and political parties.
For its part, the government hopes their adopted home will become a melting pot for the newcomers and that they will learn German and become accustomed to the country’s traditions and values. Language is a key to integration because it allows immigrants entry into the labour market.
Before the recent spike in the number of migrants, Germany allowed 500,000 immigrants annually to keep pace with its population growth. Processing and integrating migrants is a top priority for the state as it eyes the future — a view shared by most political parties. Currently, Merkel enjoys support for her plans.
Recently, Germany allocated $1.7 billion for the initial phase of integrating the newcomers in the country’s 16 provinces. All chipped in to help. Germany’s rail network has shouldered the task of transporting the arrivals as the German people welcomed them. Thousands volunteered to assist.
Beyond the hospitality, there are fears the newcomers would bring with them some of the problems that forced them to flee their native countries. But Germany is unique in terms of the considerable opportunities it offers to migrants. If the new arrivals adhere to the country’s values and have the right vision, the potential ahead of them is limitless.
Those opportunities outweigh the dangers. It is true that some are opposed to newcomers but Germans generally respect others so the immigrants are unlikely to be exposed to human rights issues they encountered in their home countries.
If the newcomers, however, become a nuisance, Germany will not be lenient. Deportation is in the cards.
Arab states have taken the burden of hosting Syrian refugees. Lebanon has taken in 1.1 million, 26% of its population.
Jordan has 610,000 (9.8% of its population), while Turkey totals 1.6 million refugees (2.4% of its population). Another 220,000 are in Iraq and 140,000 headed for Egypt.
The young Syrians escaping hardships at home are capable of building a bright future with political and economic security in Germany. They can do so in a country that gives women full rights and individuals full freedom.