Europe Struggles to Integrate Migrants, Refugees

By Lyndsey Cole
Staff Writer

With the heavy influx of refugees into Europe in recent months, European nations are adopting various methods in an attempt to integrate foreigners into their societies. The protocol set by each European nation aims for a smooth transition for refugees, as well as for the country’s citizens and government, and has great impact on the refugee crisis on a global scale.

Countries like Sweden are commended for open policies regarding refugees. According to Reuters, the country has allocated an extra $3 billion for jobs and education to support the mass amounts of migrants that have found refuge there. The Migration Agency reported that in just a week, over 6,900 people had applied for refugee status in Sweden and analysts predict the number will rise.

Syrians receive automatic rights to asylum in Sweden, as well as in Germany, encouraging more migrants to make their way to these nations.

Despite having automatic asylum for Syrians, Germany has been mocked recently over a published “Guide to Germany and Its People,” which depicts images of proper ways to behave socially in the country. The New York Times reports that the guide, aimed at immigrants, makes assumptions of migrant behavior that are seen as offensive and demeaning.

Some believe that the guide had been published after several sexual assaults occurred in Germany on New Year’s Eve, but it was published online months before. Germany maintains that the guide is meant to assist migrants in acclimating themselves to the German way of life.

British Prime Minister David Cameron has threatened deportation to those who do not learn an adequate amount of English in an allotted time, reports The Washington Post. He said he believes that those who do not speak English are “more susceptible to the extremist message,” thereby a larger threat to the United Kingdom. With the new requirements, the government will increase the budget for English language courses by 20 million pounds to make them more available to the migrants, particularly women.

Cameron has been disparaged for suggesting that knowledge of English is connected with extremist tendencies. In response, former Chairman of the Conservative Party Sayeeda Warsi said, “Men and women of all backgrounds could benefit from better English training.”

An alternative course of action has been taken by Denmark in regard to refugees. Instead of encouraging integration, the country is discouraging more migrants from settling there at all by forcing asylum-seekers to turn in possessions valued at more than $1,500. The confiscated amount will be used to help pay for housing and food costs while they wait for resident applications to be processed.

Danish Immigration Minister Inger Stoejberg said to Al Jazeera America, “Denmark must become significantly less attractive for asylum-seekers. Fewer refugees would mean better opportunities to integrate immigrants who are already in Denmark.”

The move is controversial, but supported by many Danish citizens who believe that refugees must offer some compensation for the expense they place on the country.

Danish citizen Suzanne Petersen told Al Jazeera, “I think many come here for the large benefits, so this is a way for them to pay at the entrance; they do cost society some money.”

Lyndsey Cole

Lyndsey Cole is a freshman pursuing a degree in Diplomacy and International Relations with a minor in Russian and Eastern European Studies. Her interests include domestic and foreign politics, human rights, photography, and literature. Lyndsey is working to become fluent in Russian and plans to travel and capture cultural perspectives through photographs. She plans to work in government in the future.

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