Saturday, November 28, 2015

German conservative CDU plans "pledge of allegiance" - for immigrants only

Germany's ruling Christian democrats (CDU), the party of Chancellor Merkel, are planning a resolution calling for an "integration agreement" for immigrants at their December caucus, report all major German papers today.

The idea to make immigrants sign an "integration agreement" has been floated several times this past year but each time it disappeared as quickly as it popped up. The blogster thought it was an all too tempting measure to go away, just as the calls to exempt refugees from the country's minimum wage law are certain to come up again.

This time, the call for a "pledge of allegiance" type agreement immigrants will have to sign is set to be formally introduced by the larger of the two parties that make up Germany's federal government.

The agreement is conceptually modeled on an "integration agreement" that every long-term unemployed resident has to sign in order to get basic means-tested benefits under the HARTZ-IV social services regime.

If a long-term unemployed person refuses to sign, the jobs agency can enforce the "agreement" as an administrative measure. Failure to fulfill the terms and conditions entails sanctions and penalties in the form of cuts to benefits that technically represent the basic minimum to survive in the world's fourth largest economy.

The integration agreement for immigrants as reported today has more lofty goals than, for instance, the exact number of job applications.

According to Die Zeit, immigrants will have to pledge to uphold:
1) Equality between men and women
2) German laws overrule Sharia laws
3) No discrimination of homosexuals and religions
4) Israel's right to exist

Failure to comply will entail benefits cuts and possibly a "change of immigration status". 

An earlier report in Focus was more comprehensive, so we add a few items from their list.

5) Accept democracy with a separation of powers as the only form of government
6) Renounce any kind of forced marriage
7) Accept mandatory schooling for girls
8) Obtain work
9) Learn German

The resolution will very likely either leave out the word "Sharia" altogether or cite it merely as an "example". In the Focus article, Israel's right to exist is quoted as "derived from" the German law banning denial of the Holocaust, and you should expect very similar wording in December in order to avoid political or legal challenges to the statement.

The pledge is so obviously directed against Muslim immigrants that the authors of whatever the final version will be, will try to make doubly sure to defuse that very allegation.

But even if they don't manage to remove all appearances, Germany does not have good anti-discrimination laws, or - where a law exists - enforcement can be tricky.

In reality, all pledge points are already covered by the German constitution and specific laws, so it can be argued that introduction of the pledge is populist politics at its worst and a handy tool to punish perceived non-compliance through administrative measures instead of formal court procedures.

Of course, immigrants will be able to appeal decisions in court, but the government still sanctions HARTZ-IV recipients despite court rulings. Expect a similar situation in application of the immigrant integration agreement.

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