Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Germany's new integration law does "assist and assert" (aka. carrot & shtick)

Germany's newest legislative achievement is on its way to become the much announced "integration law", designed to make it easier for asylum seekers to get jobs and to show some "toughness", too. The combination is labeled as "assist and assert", a favorite phrase since the heydays of social security cuts in the early 2000s, or, as the K-Landnews TheEditor calls it "carrot & shtick".

The federal government website is full of praise, highlighting the effort to get as many refugees into paid employment through a mix of relaxing rules and lifting age limits. The upper age limit of 21 years for starting vocational training will be lifted, and young people who take up a vocational program will automatically be granted residence for the duration of the program, generally three years. They didn't before? That sucks, mumbled TheEditor.

If a company does not offer a permanent job after successful completion of the program, the refugee has six months to find one. Dropping out of a program will mean losing the residence permit. 

In addition to easier access to temporary work and to suspending the existing EU/national priority rule, which requires employers to offer jobs first to qualified nationals/EU citizens, the government plans to create 100 000 "low remuneration" jobs. The less charitable term for these is "one Euro jobs",  short for work for 1 Euro an hour, and the integration law version foresees new arrivals working as cleaners in refugee shelters, assisting with meal distribution and in similar menial settings.

Permanent residency, previously granted after three years in the country, is changed to "on application only" with a higher German language certificate required.

A conservative pet demand, mandating a place of residence, is implemented in the new law. Individual states can prescribe place of residence or exclude an area. For example, the authorities will be able to say "you need to live in A town" or "you can live anywhere except A town".

The fear of ghettos prescription, yeah, fumed TheEditor. As historically famous users of the ghetto model, it is surprising they think that a majority non German district is a ghetto, don't you agree? The same politicians who share vacation photos showing them grinning in the middle of China Town USA make a law to prohibit "ethnic hotspots" in their own backyard.

Dropping out of a mandatory language course without legitimate reason will also be penalized by the new law. The fact that there are not enough courses because of a teacher shortage may alleviate bureaucratic overreach in this area.

Overall, the law could have been much worse, for instance, conservatives demanded that the language skills certification for permanent residency was the college entry German exam.

TheEditor was in favor of the college entry skills level.

It would make most of PEGIDA and large native segments of the Christian Democratic and Christian Social Union parties ineligible for permanent residence in Germany. In theory, it* mused.

* TheEditor is gender neutral. What's good for an ape, it good for me, it said.

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