Empathy is the invisible force that holds society together. Roman Krznaric

Coming to stay

An agreement between immigrants and the host country population is the foundation for peacefully managing new mass migration.

We live in a new period of mass migration. We have yet to realize and recognize it. However, the situation is not very different than in the fourth century A.D. People move from their old environment to a new one. Economic and political factors account for much of this phenomenon, but climate change is an increasingly driving force. The demographic changes in the northern hemisphere create space which can be inhabited by new settlers.

How should we tackle this issue? As the Romans in their Empire did – the Mediterranean, or Mare Nostrum, as they called it, is our defense wall; just as Hadrian’s Wall in England and the Limes in Germany once extended throughout the empire. European societies have debated for years how much immigration is acceptable, the type of immigrants and the culture they come from. This is an attempt to bring structure in a process, which, considered closely, does not allow for any structure.

When people drown in the Mediterranean Sea is it important whether they are Christians or Muslims? If a well-educated Indian or Iranian engineer moves to Germany, wouldn’t he still have difficulties settling in, even if he does not belong to the infamous group of economic migrants?

Peaceful management of mass migration

In the United States there has been a long discussion about immigration from Latin America and especially from Mexico. In his book “The Next 100 Years”, George Friedman describes this migration flow as a problem. What made the United States a successful country of immigrants was the fact that when people from the Old World set foot in America, they knew they would not see their homeland ever again. The Mexicans, however, can move back and forth between their old and new homes and, according to Friedman, this will be a source of conflict in the future.

For a long time, the group of guest workers in Germany which was least integrated into society was not the Muslim Turks, but the Catholic Italians. Living close to their homeland, they, unlike the Greeks, Portuguese and Turks, could travel back and forth between Italy and Germany. For the former integration minister of the North Rhine-Westphalia federal province in Germany, this “Circular Migration” was characteristic for the Italians. Even today, recent studies show that Italian immigrants lag behind in their education test results. However, a civil war sentiment is nowhere to find within the major immigrant groups.

The interests of those who want to emigrate correspond with those of the people living in the countries to which they want to immigrate. An agreement between the old and incoming inhabitants is the foundation for the peaceful management of new mass migration. The new immigration law should be perceived as nothing other than this.

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