Germany embraces migrants but worries about integration

Friday 02/10/2015
Children of a welcome class for immigrants attend a German lesson in Berlin, Germany, in September.

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.