The shift in European attitudes toward the flood of largely Muslim immigrants seeking new homes continues this week. After months of insisting on an open door, humanitarian policy, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is once again revising her position and bowing to pressure from her citizens. The latest move on the part of the government is to insist that there will be no free riders on the welfare state train, and any new arrivals seeking to make Germany their home are going to have to start acting a bit more like Germans. This will include learning to speak the language of their new homeland and actively pursuing government provided job training so they can seek gainful employment. (Yahoo News)
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition government agreed on Thursday to require migrants granted residence rights to show willingness to integrate by learning German and seeking work or see their benefits cut.
Ending months of disagreement, Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU), their conservative Bavarian CSU allies and the Social Democrats (SPD) hammered out a deal in the early morning hours for post-war Germany’s first law on integrating immigrants.
They also worked out new counter-terrorism measures and agreed to relax rules giving European Union citizens priority in employment so migrants can enter the job market more easily.
The deal capped months of disagreement about how to handle over a million migrants and refugees who poured into Germany last year. Those fleeing war in Syria and Iraq have the best chances of staying while economic migrants may be sent home.
As with most compromises in the world of politics, this isn’t going to make everyone happy. In particular, the provision to weaken requirements for Germans to have first priority for hiring will probably just stir more sentiment against the migrants and that’s on top of continued concerns over terrorist incidents which all too often seem to include fighters using the refugee stream as a way to get into European nations.
Yet again, this story is worth following because it serves as something of a microcosm for the debate we’re currently having in the United States on the same subject. It may also provide a bit of foreshadowing. Whether you’re looking at issues of national security and worries over terrorists arriving in your home town or competition for jobs and already strained welfare resources, there really isn’t much separating Germany from America. The problems are just magnified for the Germans because it’s a much smaller nation – both physically and in population – dealing with a disproportionately larger flood of migrants. Also, their physical proximity to the nexus of the terrorist threat and the lack of an ocean around the nation to serve as a barrier compounds their woes.
Angela Merkel is waking up to all of these realities and struggling to hold on to the political power she’s enjoyed for a very long time. There’s probably a lesson there for American leaders who will slowly but surely have to answer the same questions for their voters in the months and years to come.