Immigration is easily one of the most significant aspects of any nation’s development. The United States, Germany, and France are all nations deeply affected by the type and methods of immigration to their respective territory and has, in all three cases, led to significant domestic debate over immigration policy. This sample research paper from Ultius goes into depth regarding the challenges these states have faced with regards to immigration.
The challenges of immigration
Throughout history, immigration has played an important role in the development of ethnically and culturally diverse nations. The United States has long been accredited as being a nation made up of immigrants. However, even the United States has had outstanding problems with immigration that stemmed from nativism, economic reforms and cultural issues. For Western European nations such as Germany and France, immigration is also an issue that has caused enduring problems in society.
Cultural and social issues regarding immigration
Mainly, the integration of diverse people in nations that have existed over many centuries is problematic on the grounds that immigrants are not the foundation. There are deeper cultural and national identity issues at stake. Consequently, this has caused nations like Germany and France to encounter domestic problems with immigrant populations. The cultural and social issues that are developed from immigrant populations also have economic implications. As we live in a much more globalized world, the way that nations utilize people and resources is essential in creating a more prosperous world. While Germany has done a better job at addressing the social, political and economic challenges of immigration than France, both nations can benefit from adopting the United States’ tendency to adapt to a globalized world where immigrants play an important role.
Immigration in France
France’s political climate is historically divisive and not conducive to immigrant reforms.
- France has a long track record of political protest and a culture of endorsed activism against the ruling regime. Frequent demonstrations against the government for a wide variety of issues have been indicative of the social instability of the French nation. A recent example of such demonstrations is the proposed gay marriage bill which was promised by the president in the most recent election. Such protests are part of France’s national identity and show that reforms are costly social endeavors.
- Terrorism is a ubiquitous phenomenon in nations like France. As Kesselman and colleagues noted, while nations like the United States have faced sparse instances of terrorism, it has been an enduring problem for France.
For immigrants, this means that any proposed changes or challenges to the status quo are going to be met with hostility and protest. Given that immigrants are already subject to nativist people, the case is much more severe in France. Ultimately, however, it is the political tradition and cultural affinity for protest that fosters this.
French educational issues
Inefficient government reforms and a lackluster educational system have been political issues in France that resulted in repercussions for immigrants. France’s educational system is not up to par as being a
“high-tech postindustrial society.”
The education based reforms that are oriented towards including the immigrant population have not come to fruition. Consequently, Muslim dropouts who do not add value to the economic well-being of the nation are scapegoated as being a waste of national resources. While this could be interpreted as a cultural or economic issue, the underlying cause of the problem is the mismanagement of educational reform when it comes to immigrants. If immigrants are not being given adequate opportunities to attend school and follow through with higher education, then social problems will naturally occur.
French economic exclusion of immigrants
France’s immigrant population has also experienced a tremendous amount of economic exclusion. Similar to the United States, native citizens are apprehensive when it comes to losing jobs to immigrants who work for less pay. Coupled with the fact that there was a major influx of immigrants from Africa after 1970, there are serious concerns in terms of how they are going to get jobs. If immigrants are unable to get jobs, then there is a possibility of other means of getting by, such as:
- Social welfare
These alternatives are not conducive to economic prosperity. Kesselman and colleagues remarked that the economic exclusion problem is even worse when couples with a lack of education:
“The problem is most acute for school dropouts, many of whom participated in the wave of burning cars in 2005. But even those with a high school diploma or some college degree may be unable to land a job.”
Clearly, economic exclusion is problematic for immigrants because they resort to alternative means of survival when faced with no other option. Furthermore, this economic exclusion has been further exemplified by the fact that even with Arabs who have college degrees, many still cannot find work.
Discriminatory cultural traditions in France
Lastly, and most importantly, France’s immigrants face a serious burden in terms of dealing with the French people’s cultural tendencies to discriminate and oppress others. One example that relates to the economic exclusion point is the fact many immigrants are subject to blatant job discrimination. Kesselman gave a powerful example of a study where 2000 job applications were sent out to companies. The study found that while one out of nine French names were interviewed, only one out of fifty-four Muslim names were interviewed. French society is oriented towards retaining the status quo and not adequately addressing the issues of tolerance, social inclusion and equal opportunity. Moreover, Aside from citing that:
“many were victims of racial discrimination,” Kesselman and colleagues lamented that “Muslims and Jews are often the target of mainstream French society.”
The cultural tendency to discriminate against immigrant populations makes the nation a hostile and unfriendly place to live. The implications of France’s cultural norms reflect the way in which immigration is a serious problem.
France in comparison to the United States
Compared to the United States, France undervalues the economic opportunity of immigrants by limiting their education and access to social benefits. While there are still some cultural issues in the United States with regard to social exclusion, they are much worse in France.
- Even if immigrants living in France are naturalized, they still have yet to mitigate the cultural and discriminatory tendencies of the French people. On the other hand, Daniel Griswold argued in “Immigration and the Welfare State” that once immigrants to the United States are naturalized, they are eligible for the same benefits available to native-born Americans.
- Another major difference between immigrants in the United States and France is that France does not foster an environment of productivity. Mainly, the immigrant population in the United States is credited with the stereotype that “immigrants prefer work,” an attitude that falls in line with capitalism, productivity and the spirit of hard work.
This is heavily contrasted with France’s culture of social protest and neglect towards the economic and social needs of immigrants or foreigners.
Immigration in Germany
While Germany’s democratic government has done better than France with respect to political progress for immigrants, the apprehension to assimilate Germany domestically and with the European Union has been a challenge. Within Germany, there are some major political schisms that have been present since the unification of East and West Germany. However,
“the overriding challenge for Germany’s political institutions is the assimilation of the five eastern states.”
That is, there is still a strong political disconnect within Germany in terms of how immigrants are treated in a nation with a strong affinity towards national identity and self-sufficiency.
Effects of the European Union on German immigration
Moreover, the unity of the European Union in terms of commerce and regulation has been difficult for Germany, who has derived economic growth from their powerful financial sector. This is evident from the following:
- The potential deregulation of Germany’s political stronghold on ideals for commerce poses a risk for the immigrant population.
- If Germany does not work diligently to assimilate itself with the European Union as part of a cohesive political and economic contributor, then talented immigrants are less likely to move there.
- Political barriers to domestic unity within Germany pose a challenge for immigrants because they are facing an uphill battle when trying to assimilate to a nation that is not even politically stable (in terms of political cohesion) in the first place.
Economic factors affecting immigration
In a similar context, Germany’s apprehension to assimilate to the European Union also reflects a challenge for immigrants because they must deal with attitudes of German nationalism. In its own right, Germany has made strong efforts to become
“a bastion of advanced capitalism…”
That is, the nation has fostered the continued economic growth and prosperity of its people through a strong focus on its core industries, like finance. However, Kesselman and colleagues warned that:
“the trend toward Europeanization may be incompatible with the consensus-oriented and coordinated nature of Germany’s adjustment patterns.”
In essence, Germany has historically been self-sufficient and oriented towards primarily fostering its own well-being before other nations.
National Identity posing threats to immigrants
A sudden push towards further integration of a more European rather than a German economic unit may result in increased tendencies towards “German nationalism,” furthering the inherent risks of “identity issues” that have plagued the nation for a century. For immigrants, apprehension towards economic cohesion will result in a nativist backlash towards immigrants who may be seen as a serious threat to German identity. According to Kristina Manolatos in Germany and the Monetary Union,
“such apprehension may also result in other European companies neglecting lucrative economic opportunities.”
By default, this would leave immigrants with fewer job opportunities and more negative sentiment toward foreigners that are disrupting Germany’s means of staying competitive.
German cultural tension regarding immigration
Since the unification of East and West Germany, the nation has not truly aligned itself along similar social lines. Culturally, the people are different and tend to clash when it comes to key social issues such as which lifestyle is truly German. Such a cultural divide is destructive for Germany’s immigrant population because cultural attitudes require a shift in the way that people think about nation and identity. Consequently, there is no quick fix for this and long term trends may result in a positive feedback loop where more immigrants mean more problems.
Turkish experience in Germany
Germany’s immigrants also face troubles with respect to domestic solidarity and social tensions with Turks. Moreover, Turkish people have not been fully accepted into German society. Despite having a prominent role in terms of employment and social institutions like schools, they are still subject to discrimination and ridicule. Coupled with increasing numbers of refugees flooding into the EU, unless future generations of native Germans come to accept immigrants as German citizens in the social front, the issues will continue.
Germany in comparison the United States
Germany – A major trend that is irreversible is globalization, and Germany is no exception. In order to foster a positive living environment for all citizens and take part in the economic benefits and modern business practices afforded by globalization, Germany is under pressure to accept tradeoffs with the European Union.
The United States – The United States does not have this unique challenge as it retains its own currency and political hegemony over the Western hemisphere. However, the United States has been receptive to similar global pressures in terms of outsourcing and utilizing immigrants as a vital part of the economy.
Ultimately, both Germany and the United States face similar challenges, approaches and outcomes when it comes to immigration and it is positive on the whole.
Germany in comparison with France
While Germany has faced unique challenges with respect to the European Union, it is far better off when compared to France. The most serious immigrant related issues of France and Germany are assimilation and cultural tolerance in the face of a globalized world. The only similarity between these two nations is that they both have historic tendencies to revert to nativist and nationalistic mentalities that hinders the inclusion of immigrants.
- the culture of protest which “originated in the French revolution of 1789 and has flourished for centuries” hinders immigrants’ ability to contribute to society in a fair and reasonable manor.
- The implications of such tendencies bleed into political, cultural and economic matters.
- Assimilation into the European Union seems to be the most troublesome because it could represent a potential loss of the resources that go along with economic cooperation and cohesion.
With respect to France, Germany has done a better job of offering educational opportunities and including immigrants in the economic sphere of life.
Discussion and analysis
Consequently, the lesson that Western Europe can learn is that globalization is irreversible and all facets of social, political and economic policies are simultaneously implicated. It’s a moot point to fight it like Germany and France have because the process cannot be undone. Also, Western European nations could benefit proactively investing in the education of immigrants. To exemplify, Griswold remarked that
“whatever the up-front cost of educating the children of immigrants, the return to taxpayers is strongly positive when discounted to the present.”
It is clear that nations may be apprehensive when it comes to educating immigrants or offering social benefits; however, the United States has shown that there are long-term benefits to adopting such an approach.
Immigration has been shown to be a serious issue in France in many facets of analysis while Germany has struggled mainly with the economic aspect. Examples of United States’ adoption of a globalized world has also given insight into how France and Germany can improve. The immigrant population is burdened with challenges on all fronts.
- For France, a culture of protest and discrimination, failing economic reforms and rigid political mantras have proven to be divisive.
- Germany has done a better job of addressing these challenges while still being at risk for problems with regards to being apprehensive over the European Union integration of regulatory practices. Such apprehension may lead to long-term issues stemming from a rise in German nationalism.
The most acute problems have been associated with cultural backlash to a highly globalized world where people must rely on immigrants and foreigners for economic progress. These nations can benefit from adopting the United States’ approach of investing in immigrants as a valuable asset rather than a social burden.
Like what you read? Check out this critical analysis on Documented, a documentary about undocumented immigrants.
Griswold, Daniel. “Immigration and the Welfare State.” Cato Journal 32, no. 1 (2012): 159-174.
Kesselman, Mark, Joel Krieger, Christopher Allen, Joan DeBardeleben, and Stephen Hellman. European Politics in Transition. 6 ed. Boston, MA: Wadsworth Publishing, 2008.
Manolatos, Kristina. “Germany and the Monetary Union.” Lehigh University (2010): 1-8.
PressTV. “PressTV – French demonstrators protest same-sex marriage bill.” Press TV. http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2012/12/09/276997/french-protest-samesex-marriage-bill/ (accessed December 10, 2012).