Germany - finally - has an integration law. Germany is - finally - trying to regulate the rights and responsibilities of immigrants. Germany is - finally - recognizing that it has to do something to ensure that immigrants integrate. Seen this way, the newly agreed integration law is a historic milestone. The chancellor and her government are right in calling it that. Finally, the German government is seriously thinking about what should be expected of people who immigrate here.
Asylum law does not need to be changed
But this long-overdue integration law does not replace a much-needed immigration law. In past centuries, Germans themselves were migrants, but Germany has long become an immigration country. Many people don't want to accept this reality; they would rather sweep it under the rug. And yet, Germany needs immigrants, because Germans are having too few children. The future generation is simply too small: For the economy, for industry, for research, for training, for skilled workers and engineers. If Germany wants to protect its prosperity, there has to be immigration - but in a targeted, controlled manner.
An immigration law needs to regulate three things: The desired immigration, the asylum laws for persecuted, oppressed dissidents, writers, human rights activists and people who are part of a threatened minority. But there should also be laws on refugees to allow temporary sanctuary as long as a war or similar disaster persists.
Germany's asylum laws do not need to be changed. Those facing persecution can find asylum here. But they should not be used as grounds to circumvent the rules for legal or illegal immigrants. The fact that only a few thousand asylum seekers are granted asylum in the classic sense each year, while at the same time hundreds of thousands are entering the country and applying for asylum makes it clear: Those who abuse our asylum laws are contributing to their destruction.
Hopes with grand coalition
Targeted immigration is completely different. The German government says, we need doctors, programmers, physicists, ethnologists, teachers, chemists, engineers - and then we go and look for them, the world over. Since we need these people and since they want to come, we offer them permanent residency status in addition to a job.
Such immigrants can also quickly become German citizens, if they wish. An Indian focusing on German studies at the University of Rostock must then be just as accepted as an African pastor in Bavaria, or a Bolivian engineer at Mercedes.
And what happens then to the refugees? No one knows how long the war they've fled from will go on. According to international law, they are given the right to remain in the country - that is a matter of course. The new integration law applies to them, which in the best case will motivate them to learn German and work here. For very young refugees, there is the chance that they may become legal immigrants.
Germany is at the start of a very large, very long test. But that doesn't change the fact that German society needs targeted immigration. For that, we need the immigration law that some have been demanding now for years. A grand coalition could - finally - make it happen.
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