Germany mandates assimilation training for migrants seeking residency permits

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Germany will require asylum seekers to take courses on German language and culture “to integrate as many people as possible into the labor market,” Chancellor Angela Merkel said on April 14.

New measures agreed on by Merkel’s conservative Christian Union bloc and the Social Democrats (SPD) mark a “historic” first for Germany, which has taken in more than one million asylum seekers since 2015.

Germany has taken in more than 1 million asylum seekers since 2015. /Reuters
Germany has taken in more than 1 million asylum seekers since 2015. /Reuters

In some cases, Germany will deny residence permits to those who fail to take the courses.

“We know, after hundreds of thousands of refugees arrived in our country, that we are facing a two-pronged challenge: on the one hand controlling the flow of refugees… and of course on the other hand not just registering them but integrating them,” Merkel said.

Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel of the SPD called the agreement a “historic step” towards acknowledging the “modernization and opening of our society. For the first time in the history of the republic, Germany will have its own integration law.”

The new measures call for federal funds to be used to create 100,000 jobs for asylum seekers receiving benefits. Those taking part in job training would be shielded from expulsion for the length of the program.

“Only those refugees who work toward their own integration will receive a permanent residence permit,” Merkel said.

Pro Asyl, a migrant rights organization, said the new measures are unfair and will penalize refugees before they gain full access to services.

Anti-immigration AfD party blasted the measures as “unjust,” saying refugees will be given preferential treatment in the job market over German workers.