It was not only in connection with my book The Multicultural Society that I took a look at the condition of migrants from various ancestral backgrounds. The first integration report from the German Federal government was prepared by the Federal Government Commissioner for Migration, Refugees, and Integration Maria Böhmer (CDU party). Up until now the report has unfortunately not been made available on the internet. While it does not actually report anything new, it is significantly more honest than the corresponding 2008 report for North Rhine Westphalia. It is too bad that nothing has improved: Immigrants are twice as likely to be poor, unemployed, and involved in crime than the rest of society. Their children are twice as likely to drop out of school and not return. The automatic reaction of the media and of politicians is also not new, which is that society is held responsible for the situation and that politicians have to do more. In my book I have indeed also criticized the fact that politicians under CDU and SPD party (ie rightwing and leftwing) chancellors have for decades preferred to ignore the problem that has existed for Muslims who have lived in Germany for generations. This has been possible since by definition Germany is not a country of immigration, and the dream was that the people concerned would somehow return to their homeland.

However, as much as it is necessary to argue over the correct political action, do not the people concerned at least have a part to contribute? And does not one have to soberly see that politics only has a limited role to play? Why do so few people call for the following: use the opportunities at your disposal in a free society; learn, improve your skills and education, become independent, and deter people like yourselves from crime.

On June 11, 2006 Mariam Lau wrote a very good and honest front page commentary in Die Welt daily newspaper, excerpts of which I would like to include here:

The numbers are staggering: Immigrants are twice as likely to be unemployed, twice as often on the receiving end of state support, and are above all twice as frequently involved in crime as comparable age groups of ethnic Germans. From these numbers there is only one consequence to draw: Integration policy can be as sophisticated as it wants to be, but if the social system supports a life without work, then there is no reason to exert oneself. Politicians who denounce such a situation, however, trigger a storm of indignation among Germans. Not in a campaign! But behind these numbers there is a cultural attitude that is recognizable. Many immigrants despise German society for its very largesse. That schools are not institutions of discipline, that what one has in Germany is not a culture that depends on family ties but on achievement, that free thinking is what counts – all of this is completely foreign to many immigrants. Many do not show up for parents’ evenings. If someone would call these facts for what they are, and if immigrant associations and the Commissioner for Migration, Refugees, and Integration would do the same, we would be a bit beyond where we are. . . . An additional problem in integration policy is ‘projectitis,’ with a new girls’ soccer groups here, and some afterschool care in a youth center there– this is clearly too little. Schools, which are the main combat zone, need much more support.”

 

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