No Integration Now, No Integration Tomorrow, No Integration Ever!

It’s hard to imagine how western European countries could have handled immigration any worse even if they tried. I’ve been casually following news sites aimed at non-citizens from a few Northwest European countries for a few years now (esp the Netherlands and Scandinavia) and can make some preliminary observations.

These countries are mostly _terrible_ at integrating newcomers. Oddly, they are really terrible at teaching new arrivals the local language (which should be the simplest task) and this has cascading bad effects because without language skills the rest of the integration effort is doomed before it begins.

What’s very frustrating (for someone who believes in integration and believes it shouldn’t be that hard) is that vast amounts of efforts (and often resources) go into projects and policies that anyone who knows anything about human nature and/or the relationships between language and culture and politics could easily predict will fail. Then each failed project is replaced by another….. which fails.

I imagine that this failure will be replaced by a different policy that will also fail. If you want to know why the populists and nationalists are winning in Europe now. This is a part of it. I’m not sure how big a part, but it’s definitely a significant part.

Sometime in the nearest future I’ll try to write about what types of policies might work better.

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1 Response to No Integration Now, No Integration Tomorrow, No Integration Ever!

  1. el says:

    When we immigrated from Ukraine to Israel in 1990ies, full immigrant families (not single parent ones or with something else giving additional privileges) had half a year in which the government gave them money to live on and a free Hebrew language course (Ulpan Aleph). If immigrants in question had high education (university, for instance), they were given a year in order to learn language, take professional courses, etc. The professional courses were free too, of course.

    My mother took three language Hebrew courses (Ulpan Aleoh, Bet, Gimel) and two different kinds of professional courses – all for free. (We were not a full family, and she got much more than half a year.)

    Also, Israeli government was responsible for language courses: quality, content, teachers, etc.

    If one wants people to integrate, one should
    a) choose motivated people, like Jewish immigrants to Israel
    b) create good enough conditions for them. Let them learn language in peace, without trying to work minimum wage jobs at the same time.

    I was slightly shocked after reading about immigrants being expected to pay huge sums of money – “borrow up to €10,000” – to pay for courses of questionable quality. While they are also struggling to earn ,money to survive w/o any language knowledge.

    I consider myself a smart enough person, with several university degrees, but I would likely fail to learn a completely new language without good conditions, like numerous immigrants to Europe do fail.

    I also remember a special newspaper in easy Hebrew for new immigrants, which my mother took from Ulpan (for free, again). The accepting culture has to be ready to receive newcomers too.

    Would love to hear your thoughts regarding working policies. I believe I’ve already expressed mine.

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