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Report exposes German anti-immigrant prejudice

Fabian von der Mark
December 10, 2016

The refugee crisis has made integration in Germany more difficult. And Syrian refugees are the least of the country's problems.

Deutschland Deutschkurs für Flüchtlinge in Bonn Lehrerin Alev Erisöz Reinke mit Radwan Ajouz
Image: DW/M. Hallam

The number of people arriving in Germany from other countries has increased in recent years. More than two million people came to Germany in 2015, and nearly one million left the country. All in all, 17 million people with an immigrant background live in Germany, according to German Integration Commissioner Aydan Ozoguz. The title of the integration commissioner's report is also different this year compared with previous years. It used to refer to the "situation of foreigners" in Germany and not to people "with an immigrant background," which reflects the fact that the majority now hold German passports.

A shortage of teachers for German courses

The largest group of immigrants still comes from the European Union (45 percent). If you look more closely at the countries of origin, the main groups that have arrived in Germany are from Turkey (16 percent), Poland (9.9 percent) and Russia (7.1 percent). In 2015 many Syrians entered Germany, and according to Aydan Ozoguz, they are a fine example of integration.

When it comes to participation in integration courses, Syrians top the list, ahead of the Poles. These refugees want to learn German and integrate. "The Syrians are beating a path to our doors," said Ozoguz. That is why there is a dire need for German-language teachers at the moment.

A large discrepancy between the mood and reality

According to the integration commission, many people feel threatened by the 890,000 refugees who arrived in the country last year. Ozoguz says the mood in Germany is disrespectful and tense. "An atmosphere is being created at their expense; sadly, it has nothing to do with the truth," said Ozoguz. The refugee crime rate has been falsely assessed. The integration report includes figures from the Federal Criminal Police Office. Even the numbers shed a good light on the largest new group of immigrants. "We have virtually no crime, especially among Syrian refugees. The feeling in the population is somewhat different and that shows a great discrepancy."

A foreign name is a problem

The report by the federal commissioner for migration, refugees and integration analyzes data collected over the past two years. This covers exactly the period of the great influx of civil war refugees in Germany. Even though Ozoguz believes that Syrians have shown an exemplary attitude, problems are growing. There are already 440,000 children in Germany who do not speak German at home, and the numbers are increasing. Parents with little education are still the greatest obstacle for education, work and integration. Ozoguz added that simply having a foreign name can reduce the chance of getting a job interview.

The ministries need to catch up

Symbolbild Migranten Menschenrechte Gesellschaft
Migrants in Germany: a struggle to find a place in societyImage: picture-alliance/dpa/R. Jensen

But Ozoguz also sees success stories in the integration process. Now, almost 90 percent of immigrant children go to daycare. The number of high school graduates with a general qualification for university entrance is rising, and the number of young people who haven't finished school is falling. Some professions, however, are still hard to get into. According to Ozoguz, about 14 percent of people working in German ministries have an immigrant background, whereas the amount for the overall population lies at 21 percent. This imbalance needs to be addressed. But in other ways, the government has done its homework with regard to integration, said Ozoguz. Progress has been made, for example, with the new regulation that allows immigrants to complete an education once it has been started. Syrians will also be able to benefit from this legislative change.

Number of asylum applications has almost halved

The shortage of language courses will probably not be alleviated any time soon. The German government has stressed that last year's situation will not be repeated, and the latest figures from the Federal Agency of Migration and Refugees already reveal what has changed since 2015. In November, only 26,000 applications for asylum were submitted – a 54-percent drop compared to the previous year. But there is one constant: most people are still coming from war-torn Syria.

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