Participation as a Task for Society as a Whole: 10 Points

10 points for sustainable migration policy

von Julia Eckert

Various & Gould, "Handnetz", Berlin 2013 –
Various & Gould, “Handnetz”, Berlin 2013 –

Migration in all its forms is an inevitable companion to the present globalization processes. Insight into the fact of migration makes it vital to develop a migration policy that takes a constructive and sustainable approach to the challenges and potentials it presents. The situation to be tackled at present makes that all the more urgent. In order to continue living in a society that is socially, economically and ethically stable in the future, we must first enable participation for those who have recently arrived here.

I Economic stimulus

We advocate removing one of the causes of social misery and tension as quickly as possible, by fostering new arrivals’ participation in the labour market and neighbourhood structures.

1 Long-term accommodation in camps and container villages and forced allocation to reception camps hinders integration and participation. Swift integration into the established population’s residential areas is the best path to positive coexistence. Substantial investments in social housing, long overdue as it is, are necessary to achieve this. Everyone profits from this investment. The goal is mixed districts containing housing for different groups of the population: students, newcomers, low-income families, more expensive homes for those with higher incomes.

2 We advocate fostering and using newcomers’ potential. This requires substantial investment in schools and teacher training, another long overdue step. Once again, such investment benefits the general public, as all pupils and teachers profit from a new effort to enhance primary and secondary schools.

3 We advocate needs-based government support for companies of all size to help them take on newcomers as trainees or employees. We advocate fast recognition of foreign educational and training qualifications, in order to enable this development.

4 First and foremost, we need flexible government support for civil society volunteering: let us do it!

II Legal parameters

The legal parameters are key for making these changes. Criminalizing migration creates immense problems and leads to social tensions. We must acknowledge the fact of migration and institutionalize participation opportunities on a legal basis.

5 This means, first and foremost, abolishing long-term precarious residence statuses such as Duldung (suspension of deportation); right to remain must be granted sooner, not only after six to eight years. Insecure residence statuses lead to enormous social problems and thereby to social tensions.

6 Furthermore, family unifications must be enabled immediately and without bureaucracy. Preventing family unification causes deep psychological damage, impedes integration and leads to many people choosing to take the Mediterranean route, which has cost so many lives already. Children, old people and the sick cope even less well with the extreme hardships of this route than their fathers and sons; women are frequently exposed to assault due to the extreme dependencies involved in this illegal entry route. The money spent on traveling in this way could be used much more sensibly.

7 To administrate these processes, the authorities’ workload must be reduced. Unnecessary steps (such as the three-month check on Duldung, the double entitlement certificate for integration courses, the time-limited health coverage certificate that could be replaced by a card system, etc.) must be abolished. Then the authorities can devote their time to the essential tasks of organizing newcomers’ participation.

III Refuge

The billions invested by states in deterrence and securing borders – in Turkey and the Mediterranean – could be better spent on the above points. The millions spent by refugees on their escape routes (a ferry ticket from the Turkish mainland to Lesbos costs 5 euro; a place on an inflatable dinghy costs at least 1500) could be invested more productively here in our future together.

8 We must ensure safe refuge routes.

9 We need an asylum law worthy of its name, which grants full social participation in the long term to those who receive asylum or subsidiary protection or are recognized as refugees under the Geneva Convention.

10 We need legal migration routes – then the right to asylum need no longer be “abused”.