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Old 05-23-2006, 05:45 AM   #1
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Right, let's get some bloody debate happening here, to try and avert Z from shutting down this forum.
All across Europe governments are tightening the regulations on immigrants, after recent riots and discord involving disaffected Muslim youths in France, assassinations of politicians in Holland, riots following the Mohammad cartoons and the recent home-grown Muslim terrorist attack in London.
Basically this is what the European governments want, before they will accept immigrants into their countries (I will summarise the article below in case some of you are too lazy to read it - although it's fascinating and informative):
- they want immigrants to respect Western values and ways of life (eg nudity, homosexuality, freedom of speech, etc)
- they want immigrants to learn the languages of where they're going to make it easier for them to find jobs
- they want immigrants to realise that if they move to a Euro country that they at least try and assimilate themselves into the culture of that country
- if immigrants cannot do any of the above, then the reasoning is that they will be unhappy in the country and should not be there
I'm interested in people's views on this, particularly our European members. Unfortunately we don't seem to have any members who are of the Islamic faith - I'd love to hear their views on this. I have posted this on my cricket forum, where there is a sizeable Muslim community and will try and post their opinions here to provide some perspective. But for now: are these "requirements" reasonable or is Europe being unfair?
Europe raises bar for immigrants
Rules tightened as sentiment turns
By Colin Nickerson, Globe Staff | May 22, 2006
AMSTERDAM -- A naked woman frolics in the surf. Gay men nuzzle in a park.
These images are featured on a video, ''Coming to the Netherlands," that the government shows to prospective immigrants, part of the country's stringent new screening measures to determine whether newcomers can accept Western ''values." Anyone offended by such images, Dutch official reasoning goes, will probably be unhappy living in the country and should not be admitted.
Across Europe, countries that for decades have provided a generous reception for immigrants and refugees are now pulling away the welcome mat. Anti-immigrant sentiment bordering on the xenophobic -- once the purlieu of a few right-wing parties -- has become mainstream politics in such countries as the Netherlands, France, Germany, and Britain.
New laws are raising the hurdles for newcomers, especially Muslims, and winning cheers from many Europeans. Polls indicate that strong majorities in almost every European country favor not just tightening restrictions on ordinary immigrants but also casting a colder eye on the hard-luck tales of refugees seeking asylum.
The alarms sounding over immigration have some economic basis, such as perennial worry that newcomers are taking jobs from locals. But analysts say Europeans are mainly fearful of terrorism and the fast spread of Islamic culture.
Most undocumented immigrants and refugees streaming into the continent are Muslims from rural Africa, Turkey, and South Asia. They are changing the face of Western Europe. It's easier to buy goat kebab in Rotterdam than traditional Dutch pickled herring; Berlin is the largest ''Turkish city" outside Turkey; and shopping districts in suburban Paris have the feel of an North African bazaar, with veiled women fingering bolts of cloth and Halal butchers singing the virtues of their meats.
France gave preliminary approval last week to a bill that would sharply restrict immigration by nonskilled workers from outside Europe, set tougher standards for acquiring citizenship, and make it hard for foreigners already working in France to bring in their families. In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel this month endorsed a plan to create rigorous new citizenship tests.
The Dutch immigration minister, Rita Verdonk, seemed to express the prevailing view in recent public comments: ''It is important to make clear demands of people. They need to subscribe to our European values, respect our laws, and learn our language[s]."
The justification given for the measures is better assimilation of immigrants. That's a new tack for Europe, which has long hoisted the banner of different-strokes-for-different-folks multiculturalism. But today, promoting American-style integration tops national agendas after deadly bombings by home-grown Islamic radicals in Britain, rioting in Muslim ghettoes in France, the killings of Dutch public figures by religious extremists, and the global furor that ensued after a Danish newspaper ran cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed.
Some analysts see the new laws as a backlash. The continent has nervously watched its Muslim population swell from a few hundred thousand after World War II to more than 15 million today, mainly uneducated immigrant guest workers and their descendants.
''Mistrust and fear of Muslims is deeper [in Europe] than in the United States even immediately after 9/11," said Kees Groenendijk, head of the Center for Migration Law at the University of Nijmegen in the Netherlands. ''And unlike the US, our politicians make little attempt to emphasize that legitimate, law-abiding immigrants are not the problem [but are] necessary for our prosperity and for our survival as an open economy."
The Netherlands -- shocked by the 2002 assassination of politician Pim Fortuyn, who had warned that the country was admitting too many Muslims, and by the 2004 murder of film producer Theo van Gogh, shot and slashed on an Amsterdam street by an Islamic extremist -- has changed from Europe's most open society to the country taking the hardest line.
Among other things, the Netherlands has vowed to expel more than 26,000 refugees who gained asylum under false pretenses. Refugees are given sanctuary from ''well-founded" threats to their safety because of political, ethnic, or religious persecution in their home country. An immigrant is allowed residency in a new country to take a job or join family.
In one extraordinary case, Dutch authorities last month handcuffed and deported a Kosovo-born teenager days before she was to graduate from high school. Taida Pasic, 18, who had lived in the Netherlands since she was 6, reentered the country on a fake tourist visa to complete her studies after her family was ejected last year for lying about their reasons for leaving the Balkans.
In an even more dramatic development, the Dutch government last week moved to strip citizenship from one of its lawmakers, who has gained international prominence for urging Europeans to more rigorously defend their culture against Muslim newcomers. Somali-born Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who for two years has had to live under 24-hour police protection because of her campaign against mistreatment of women in Muslim countries, admitted to lying about her circumstances when applying for political asylum in 1992.
But even the most hard-nosed Dutch critics of immigration were aghast when Verdonk, known as ''Iron Rita," moved to cancel Hirsi Ali's citizenship. That decision was under review after sharp criticism from newspaper editorials and politicians across Europe.
The new laws in the Netherlands require prospective immigrants to pass grueling exams on Dutch language, history, and culture at a Netherlands embassy in their homelands, and watch the controversial video, which also depicts crowded immigrant enclaves, urban drug use, and other scenes calculated to give a more realistic view of life in the West.
In France, Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, has bluntly advised new immigrants: Love France or leave it.
''If it bothers some people to be in France, then it shouldn't bother them to leave a country they don't love," Sarkozy has said. The popular politician, almost certain to be a front-runner in presidential elections next May, was referring to Muslims from North and West Africa who last fall torched public buildings and thousands of cars in riots sparked by dissatisfaction over subsidized housing, high unemployment, and schools perceived as substandard.
Last week, France's National Assembly overwhelmingly passed a stringent immigration bill sponsored by Sarkozy that will deny welfare benefits to newcomers who refuse to take jobs, restrict non-European immigration only to individuals with ''high technical skills or special talents," and require immigrants to sign a pledge agreeing to learn French and respect ''the French way of life."
The proposed law, which still needs approval from the Senate, triggered angry protests in former French colonies in Africa and drew charges of racism at home.
''It tries to kill every liberty and every right of the French immigrants," said Marielou Jampolski, spokeswoman for the group SOS Racisme. ''It's very dangerous for the country."
In Britain, public anger over large numbers of illegal immigrants erupted last month when the government admitted that it had accidentally freed 1,023 foreigners convicted of serious crimes -- including murder and rape -- instead of deporting them. A recent poll found that 59 percent of Britons said they would approve of a blanket ban on all further immigration, although there is little chance such a drastic measure would ever become law.
Germany is pondering new citizenship tests, including one drawn up by the state of Hesse that questions immigrants on their views on women's rights, arranged marriages, Israel's right to exist, and head scarves on schoolgirls -- topics that seem designed specifically to test the tolerance of Muslims. Another state, Baden-Wuerttemberg, asks applicants for citizenship whether they consider the Sept. 11, 2001, hijackers to be ''terrorists or freedom fighters" and whether they are disturbed by ''open homosexuals holding public positions."
As debate intensifies, Germany started the process of setting the country's first national guidelines for obtaining citizenship. Until now, the country's 16 states set standards and there was virtually no effort to encourage Turks and North Africans to gain citizenship or follow cultural norms. Many of the country's 3 million Muslims, including second- and third-generation descendants of guest workers, speak little German and live in immigrant communities where joblessness is high and high school graduation rates are low.
The Netherlands faces a similar situation: In some cities, such as Rotterdam, immigrants and their offspring represent 50 percent of the population.
''There are over 600,000 people in the country [of 16 million] who can't speak proper Dutch and are mostly unemployed," Verdonk said in recent public comments. ''We can no longer afford to welcome immigrants who will not integrate into mainstream society."
But analysts also say Western Europe cannot survive without immigrants. New blood is required to offset declining birth rates, expand economies, and -- not least of all -- pay the taxes to support pensions and other social programs that benefit all Europeans.
''The world is changing, Europe is changing, and Holland must accept change, too, even though many Dutch fear it," said Jean Tillie at the University of Amsterdam's Institute for Migration and Ethnic Studies. ''New laws truly intended to promote social cohesion and more tolerance may be necessary. But laws created out of fear and mistrust will eventually do more harm than good. Europe needs immigrants."
Source: Click here for original Boston Globe article
[ 05-23-2006, 04:48 AM: Message edited by: Memnoch ]

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Old 05-23-2006, 09:03 AM   #2
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Glad to see that the US is not the only ones trying to protect their way of life within their own borders.
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Old 05-23-2006, 09:55 AM   #3

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Very interesting article indeed.

The only flaw with tackling it like this is that it does nothing to address the illegal immigration - those who won't go to an embassy to watch a video.

Illegals are the worst integrators by definition and tough laws like this shouldn't be allowed to deflect attention away from the many hundreds of thousands of people who the government simply doesn't know about.

Some very interesting ideas there though and I certainly would support most of them.

Perhaps the 'tolerance video' should be applied to the current population of the UK too and we could have a spring cleaning. [img]tongue.gif[/img]
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Old 05-23-2006, 10:39 AM   #4
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HAHAHAHAHA!!! This is awesome!!

It's funny to watch the US get on the news every night with immigration, now it seems everyone is doing it. A new age of isolationism, nationalism and xenophobia seems to be the order of the day, and I for one am ALL FOR IT! [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img]
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Old 05-24-2006, 05:59 AM   #5
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I'm not all that happy with tighter immigration control. The process is arbitrary and expensive (at least in my country, Sweden). The issues we should deal with here are IMHO twofold and not quite whats in that article:

Employment: Make it easier to employ immigrants (and others) by reducing the cost and risk for employers. After taxes and "social fees" an employee gets to keep less than 40% of what the employer paid. It's also way too hard to fire people. This makes companies reluctant to employ, and if they employ they go for safe bets, ie 30yo white males. In the case of immigrants we should also give them work permits right away, even before their right to stay indefinitely is validated. If someone wants to work rather than live on handouts, why not let them?

Make the visa/asylum process faster and more transparent: It can take 3-5 years before the incompetent migrations board determines if you are allowed to stay or not, which causes uncertainty and unnecessary suffering. I've personally seen a routine family reunion case (my Singaporean gf) drag out so long that her initial 2-year permit expired, a case where the actual "investigation" took a whopping 30 minutes once these idiots got around to conducting an interview. This is piled up incompetence, nothing else. Even if you are to be kicked out it is better to be told that early rather than getting half settled before being pulled and kicked out again.

Basically I belong to the minority that believes we should make it easier to enter the country to work, but be less generous in welfare handouts. Europe largely lacks a growing service sector to soak these people up, mainly due to business and labour regulations. Employment and interaction with the natives is key to integration, bue Europe hasnt gotten close to seeing these dynamics at work since it usually takes a generation or two for "immigrants" (loosely used here as you arent an immigrant if you were born in the country) to integrate. How many descendants of Italian/Irish/German/Polish Americans conssider themselves anything but Americans first today? Our experience of large scale immigration is much shorter than the American one.

My opinion is however strongly opposed both by unions, their social democratic allies, traditional conservatives, and the traditional populist sentiment. It's not like we can be much tougher on immigration than we are already without damaging the economy anyway. The population is aging and we are running low on tax payers. We only (and barely) let in refugees and asylum seekers (as defined by international conventions which make a fairly strict interpretation of these cathegories) and almost no labour immigration. This has "moral" reasons but have resulted in our immigrants being the most difficult to get into the labour market, amplifying the problems...
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Old 05-24-2006, 10:21 AM   #6
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Hmmm... where does the cycle begin and end? People leave a place for opportunity, and begin to make the most of it. They succeed. They tell their friends back home that they should come over too. The friends, even though they may not have been as motivated to succeed or as willing to take risks, do. They pass the word along.

With each succeeding passing, you get people less and less motivated, less and less interested in taking the chances to be successful. It's not that there aren't motivated people, but their numbers dwindle because they're already there.

To try to break the cycle, people in the current land of opportunity try to make sure others who want to come in realize what opportunity means, and what's involved. They enact programs to condition people to appreciate the land, and establish quotas and criteria for entry. Anger and frustrations rise higher and higher on both sides...

Repeat until people start leaving that place for another land of opportunity... and start all over again.
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Old 05-24-2006, 10:30 AM   #7
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Europe doesn't need friggin immigrants, Europe needs to start getting laid, and make new citizens themselves.
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Old 05-24-2006, 11:13 AM   #8
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Originally posted by johnny:
Europe doesn't need friggin immigrants, Europe needs to start getting laid, and make new citizens themselves.

Declining populations will have economic ramifications, but it needs to happen anyway. The fact that our market systems require new influx of people and a growing/steady population to stay afloat should confirm for us that, mathematically, we are the equivalent of a virus in a laboratory culture.

Here's what my President always say:

"America needs these immigrant laborers to do the jobs Americans won't do..."

Here's the unspoken rest of the sentence:

"... for the shitty wages employers are wanting to pay for those jobs."

No minimum wage increase in over a decade. No wonder folks in the hoods would rather sit at home on SSI. Sadly, I agree with them when they say that $5.50 an hour isn't worth leaving home for. It ain't, unless you're a student. We need a wage hike, not a bunch of cheap unskilled labor.

Speaking of unskilled labor, new houses in this country SUCK due to all the unskilled laborers, mostly Mexicans in CA, TX and IL. In days gone by you had carpenters, masons, skilled tradesmen for life. Now you get broken English from a Mexican who says "I can do that" to whatever job you're willing to pay him to do. Fetch a cat from a tree, he can do that. Paint a fence, he can do that. Frame a house, he can do that. Yeah, pffft. He can do them all shittily. I think we've had one IW'er lose his business to this crap.

I think the essential element of labor that pure economics completely forgets is that it is NOT FUNGIBLE.

[img]graemlins/rant.gif[/img] OFF.
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Old 05-24-2006, 11:49 AM   #9
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Well personally, I'm not much for immigration. You've got wine in your glass, but you don't think you have enough to drink, so you add water in it. You don't have wine anymore.

I keep hearing about how we need immigration to keep our population growing, and how x percentage of the population is immigrants. I'm sorry, but those people are not real citizens unless they get assimilated. They don't think like us, they don't act like us, they have no loyalties to us.

I've ranted on this a couple of times before, but I think it's extremly rude of someone to move to a country and not make efforts to adapt to it.

I know immigrants that live out of government's welfare, never look for real jobs, and secretly work illegally without paying taxes or anything. They come over, use our tax money to pay their appartment, food and clothing, and secretly work without paying the taxes that keep them alive and fed! I know some that don't even try to learn our language. The other day I went to a restaurant and none of the employee even spoke english or french.

I think those new laws are a good idea. You don't move to a country if you have nothing in common with the people living there, and even less so if you won't even be able to communicate with them.

[ 05-24-2006, 11:13 AM: Message edited by: Luvian ]
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Old 05-24-2006, 02:08 PM   #10

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I believe the very premise of this debate is both false and extraordinarily common.

Culture does not equal country. Nation states had to be constructed across diverse populations to get people to call themselves members of that country, to pay taxes to it, ect. This is exponentially evident with expansive, more populous countries.

Since we're not talking about anyone specific, "us" is a fundamental political position. "Them" is a useful means to political ends. When we stop seeing 'culture' as static and natural, we can stop worrying about its protection and ask more relevant questions, like what is the range and scope of the impact of immigration in the first place? We apparently know the answer to that on a personal level, maybe a logical or ethical level, and vaguely on the level of the national economy - ie, we don't crap about it in my country. Yet we're ready to legislate on it and argue about it loudly on cable news. I most interested in who is benefitting from aggravating societal anxiety about foreigners into social mobilization and supporting anti-immigration policy. On the other side, who is operating, and in what ways to enact pro-immigration reform, and what are they gaining from it? I can think of some likely suspects, but the answers are generally surprising. In any case, this is the level I think is relevant - what is actually, factually happening (as far as our methods can tell us), what is SAID about what is happening, and who is saying and doing what in the context of immigration.

It takes the debate at least past the common argumentative paradigm about immigration, which naturally is rooted in one's sense nationalism and personal observation.
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