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Claim&Foster: The new Integration law in DE. Positive and needed.

On 25 May 2016, Germany have adopted the first integration law.

As a former expat, I'm very positive about the fact that it gives at least some guidance to what it takes to be an "integrated" citizen. In the past it was handled non-uniformly /optionally / with no negative effect if ignored - and many got away by avoidance or simply ignoring the rules (in expectation of self-enforcement/ self-discipline). 15 years ago  I was suprised that even the citizens had difficult to express what made them proud of themselves or their culture or European values.

Core points of the new law :
1) Integration and Language course - In contrast to the past - an expat can be obliged to attend a language course, independent of external factors (like whether the spouse are fluent or not). Failure to do so, will reduce benefits or merits
2) Now changed from a) automatic residency to b) dependency on keeping a job for 2 years and passing the language test
3) Avoidance of Ghettos'/closed groups/isolation : to avoid social hot spots, people of similiar background can be dispersed over  many towns for a limited time (non-optional)
4) Work and Training : Now a EU citizen have no priority to get an available job, should the asylum seeker choose to apply for the same job. Previously, a citizen had priority.


Especially point 3) and 4) might create long term animosity with the locals/expat/asylant if not handled transparently/senstivitely.


Ideally one would see 3) as probably the most visible sign of non-integration right over the world.
Hence I would welcome a credit system for balanced integration beyond sleeping in a particular location as enforced by 3)

One step of many future to come?
The Private Schools (IB) have an excellent example of how to foster social engagement (non-optional) for high-school graduates called C.A.S, that functions well for both disiplined as well as less-disciplined individuals :

From which we can take a few hints.  It consists of measuring social engagement on 3 axis :

Creativity (C), Action (A) and Service (S).
50 hours must be contributed in one year for each C. A. S. (3% of available time, holidays excluded)

read more here : http://www.ibo.org/programmes/diploma-p … d-service/ or http://www.harrisoncsd.org/docs/academi … _Guide.pdf


Here the focus should be to interact informally on a one-to-one/many basis towards a native German (ie not in the us-them bundles), which will be credited every hour (max 1 hour per day) and reported seperately by particpant and observer :

Creativity  :  attending / participating town/local festivals, painting (organized improvement ie train stations, painting backdrops for local plays), translation, giving music lessons,...
Action        : participation in a sport verein running, swimming, cutting trees, clearing snow, maintaining parks etc.
Service     : tutoring, nursing home visits, service-oriented clubs, helping elderly neighbors, accompanying/supporting teachers on field trips, grocery shopping,


or many other areas close to heart of the being Europeans & Germans :

Nature and Animal protection
Democray and Civil Rights
Migration and Living Together (ie integrating a student heim)
Education
Disabilities and community participation
Elderly
Culture
Media
Religious diversity training (overview provided by imcumbent practioners, including a tract for atheism, etc)
Economy (buying selling/ paying tax)
Children/Youth/Family
International and work abroad (ie helping out in flooded areas)
Care of the Sick (Hospital / Clinics)
Support of homeless  (support in soup kitchen)/ care of addicts
Work
Sport & Leisure
...

all of the above always in German or the official language of that region if requested (Danish, Sorbian, Frisian)


Since CAS builds a balanced individual it will also counteract locals misuse the opportunity to have cheap labour.



conversely I belief some German community members should be able to claim tax rebates (ehrenamtlich) for incentiviting social engagement and collaboration (to a upper limit) but with certain respective duties.

What do you think? Are there maybe more efficient ways to foster and claim.

Honestly, I do not understand what the above is about (beyond the first paragraphs about the integration law). Can you explain?

So, forced integration and assimilation.  Along with that, an expat is going to be told where they can or cannot live (point 3)?  I think a lot of people will take a pass on that, which I imagine is Germany's goal in part with this law.  Rightfully noted, it really does have the chance to increase already high animosity that's present.

"Religious diversity training (overview provided by imcumbent practioners, including a tract for atheism, etc)" -- I got a big  :lol: out of that :)

I also cannot imagine that Germany instates a law that gives the authorities the right to decide where which people can live and where they can't (anti-Ghettoisation).
Asylum seekers have to stay in government-provided camps until their asylum application is approved (reason being that they are under government care, with everything provided for them, and they might need to be deported if not approved). But after approval, they have the same right like any other resident to stay and life (and work) wherever they want in Germany.
For other foreign residents, there is no way at all for the authorities to restrict where they choose to reside.

Here is a link about the law, perhaps explained more clearly and presented better.  It also notes some important pitfalls that are presented in the face of such a law.  The key point being, it applies only to legitimate asylum seekers.

http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/8145/ … ration-law

beppi :

I also cannot imagine that Germany instates a law that gives the authorities the right to decide where which people can live and where they can't (anti-Ghettoisation).

Well. It is a law now and it can be decided by the local authorities. That is why I suggested a more efficient way to improve integration (C.A.S) instead of  solely relying on physical placement enforcement to improve integration (recall that the first of such Internal Pass laws in South Africa was introduced by the British in 1797 in the Cape Colonies, and we all know in which direction this went - if left to its own devices).

Until such time , we have to see the wood from the trees, also.

1) people that secularize themselves from the broad community are never healthy.
2) We have a special situation developing due to the sheer untracked numbers, lately.
3) not only asylum seekers needs protection but also existing citizens, our daugthers, sons, and elderly.

Since the sword cuts both ways:
So there are a majority of law abiding asylum seekers and a minority with criminal behaviour. Therefore enforcement always bring limitations to those that are law abiding.
Everyday example : Stopping at a Traffic light was introduced because some were not considerate at crossings. In the end the majority, that was law abiding, was also affected negatively by having to wait at traffic lights.

I think we mix often 1) the right of being treated humane with 2) further rights of being a tax paying and law abiding EU citizen. Being born human does not entitle you automatically to all possible benefits of a region.

beppi :

...But after approval, they have the same right like any other resident to stay and life (and work) wherever they want in Germany.

Beppi, Approval only means that you can stay somewhere but not that you are fully integrated yet. Consider the consequences. That would be like letting a 6 year old, loose to fend for him/herself in the economy, without understanding the language, ethics, culture, behaviour.  Is that really giving them a fair chance?  I belief leaving them to fend for themselves, alone, will just increase predjustice from both sides.

Consider that it took me, with a western background and similiar ethical construct almost 3 years to fully comprehend the incomprehensibly smally nuances, what chance do you see for someone with a vastly different behaviour framework? You are forcing him/her to bundle-up if you do not support him. Conversely, it necessitates also the local authorities to be sensitive on developments in their area, which is also helpful.


beppi :

For other foreign residents, there is no way at all for the authorities to restrict where they choose to reside.

Maybe it would help if we start with agreeing on the fact that ghetto-fication is not conducive to integration. Legally, now, if local authorities now belief that you (as foreigner) have an unhealthy ghetto-fication in your neighbourhood, they are entitled to move you against your will. I interpret it like this : once moved, of course you are free to still associate and visit a friend in Berlin, Bad Godesburg, Offenbach, but probably it will help you to also learn a little bit from your German neighborhood while you are staying there. Anyway it is just enforceable until your become a full-fledged citizen.


Apart from the link I saw no constructive feedback to comment on.

The linked article contains several factual errors already in the first paragraph, which shows the authors do not know the topic well. It is also quite polemic, leaning towards the far right - e.g. in claiming that up to half of the new arrivals "are sustaining themselves through petty crime and drug dealing", which is clearly untrue, as statistics show: The crime rate of the new arrivals is lower than that of other foreigners who have been in Germany longer and not much higher than that of Germans.
This is a better source (German language only, but Google Translate is your friend):
http://www.spiegel.de/politik/deutschla … 93836.html

JohannesM :
beppi :

I also cannot imagine that Germany instates a law that gives the authorities the right to decide where which people can live and where they can't (anti-Ghettoisation).

Well. It is a law now and it can be decided by the local authorities.
[...]
Maybe it would help if we start with agreeing on the fact that ghetto-fication is not conducive to integration. Legally, now, if local authorities now belief that you (as foreigner) have an unhealthy ghetto-fication in your neighbourhood, they are entitled to move you against your will. I interpret it like this : once moved, of course you are free to still associate and visit a friend in Berlin, Bad Godesburg, Offenbach, but probably it will help you to also learn a little bit from your German neighborhood while you are staying there. Anyway it is just enforceable until your become a full-fledged citizen.

Despite its weak character (see below), this clause of the new integration law contradicts Germany's liberal social norms and was heavily discussed in the German public, with all organisations which actually work with refugees or on integration arguing against it.
The law states that the authorities can prevent people who are not in work or training from moving to a ghetto for only three years. This is not much stronger than restrictions on free movement for other people who are receiving social benefits: They need to give convincing reasons for wanting to move.

JohannesM :

Beppi, Approval only means that you can stay somewhere but not that you are fully integrated yet. Consider the consequences. That would be like letting a 6 year old, loose to fend for him/herself in the economy, without understanding the language, ethics, culture, behaviour.  Is that really giving them a fair chance?  I belief leaving them to fend for themselves, alone, will just increase predjustice from both sides.
Consider that it took me, with a western background and similiar ethical construct almost 3 years to fully comprehend the incomprehensibly smally nuances, what chance do you see for someone with a vastly different behaviour framework? You are forcing him/her to bundle-up if you do not support him. Conversely, it necessitates also the local authorities to be sensitive on developments in their area, which is also helpful.

Where did I indicate that the new arrivals should not get support for their integration into the German society?
In fact, I think A LOT MORE needs to be done to avoid the problems other places are having!

Disclaimer: I am active in helping refugees and I personally think the new arrivals will benefit Germany in the long term if we manage the unavoidable imbalances of the short and medium term well.

beppi :

Where did I indicate that the new arrivals should not get support for their integration into the German society?
In fact, I think A LOT MORE needs to be done to avoid the problems other places are having!

Disclaimer: I am active in helping refugees and I personally think the new arrivals will benefit Germany in the long term if we manage the unavoidable imbalances of the short and medium term well.

Hi Beppi,
thank your for keeping the discussion objective and less sensational.

We seem aligned on the fact that simply enforcing a place to stay by itself will not ensure total integration.
We are also accepting that selective placement can be a positive optional instrument (from an integration perspective) to break a barrier that inhibited healthy integration in the past.

We also accept that we cannot apply a liberal social norm without claiming & fostering the responsibility that goes with it :



And there are at least two ways to tackle it then
a) keep it a one-way street - force the German state (& volunteers) to give more unilateral support to make it easier for foreigners to integrate. (This was the model in the past, that had no "sunset" clause on the time it might take a refugee to show his capability to integrate in the community).

b) make it a two way street (my reference to C.A.S) - refine this newly established "bonus - malus" system to stimulate positive behaviour through positive and negative feedback (not just monetary).

Since 26 May 2016 there are elements in the law that makes b) possible for the first time in history. So asylants with a positive integration track record can be awarded (and benefit) for all their effort, differently than those that show no interest.

I am all for a two-way-street, as you call it.
Actually, it was possible (and practised) in the past as well: Showing good integration results did not only increase your chances for citizenship (in a shorter time as well), but also allowed you a happier and more successful life. Nobody says living in a Ghetto is good or enjoyable!
I personally think that preventing physical ghettoes is not enough, as modern communication, mobility and the nuclearisation of society makes mental ghettoes (sorry, I don't know a better word) possible, meaning people who live among "normal" others physically but live in their own social, moral and behavioural world.
I expect foreigners to accept our social norms. For example, the Syrian family I support has a mother and daughter who immediately run and camouflage themselves with total textile cover (only the face remains open) as soon as a male human comes within sight. I assume that it's their free will to do this, and that the mother might not change. But if the daughter, being teenager in a German school with its uncovered students mixing freely, one day decides to be like her peers, I expect the parents to accept this wholeheartedly as part of being in Germany. If they can't, they should not be here!

By the way: I think this is the best discussion I've seen on this forum for long time.
Thanks, Johannes, for starting it!

What is not clear from the initial post here is that these are rules for asylum seekers and refugees and NOT your average immigrant coming to work or study - or am I mistaken??? Thus most people using this site would be unaffected or?

I can see the problem of ghettoization but it's not so acute a problem in most German cities. Don’t bother to give examples of some Berlin neighborhoods because we all know they exist but they are NOT very representative of Germany as a whole. Maybe such ghettos are not ideal to place a home for refugees but that will not change the problems that exist there. Also, it sounds like a bit of a contradiction to say that foreigners can be lost in a country like a 6 year old yet discourage them from living in an area where others of their culture live.

The reason people tend to group together in an area is not to avoid learning to integrate but because they meet others who have similar background and experiences. This should be supportive. Otherwise, having lost contact to anyone of their own culture can be overwhelming. They can better communicate and get insider information from people who have been in their position. That’s the same reason other expats like to hear from the likes of us rather than just the rote information given by officials.

Sure there is some risk that people would only stick to their own and not integrate but I think it is outweighed by the benefit of having some people with cultural ties around. The people most likely to have trouble learning the language and integrating are the older ones – and they are only likely to get so far no matter what one does. School age people will learn the language and ways of the country through school. They might not always choose to follow the rules but quickly learn from teachers and peer pressure what is expected.

A much bigger problem is slumlords. In many cities there will be some unscrupulous people (yes, often foreigners themselves) ready to take advantage of poor foreigners – often the ones who cannot get asylum status. They will buy run-down buildings and cram multiple families into single overcrowded apartments. The conditions are usually horrific and lead to frustration resulting in vandalism and crime. Not to deny peoples’ personal responsibility but such conditions are a brewing pot for trouble. There are laws that regulate conditions and how many people can in a space. City officials can close places down for not meeting standards but seem to look the other way if it is just foreigners living there. This becomes a vicious circle. Treat people like animals and they are likely to respond in kind.

To really give foreigners a chance they should have affordable housing that meets a minimum standard of livability. This is more important than separating them from fellow foreigners.

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