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Paris, France September 15-18, 1995
Report of the seminar on
Integration Issues and Immigration Policy:
September 15-18, 1995
This is the report of the third Migration Dialogue seminar, which was held on September 15-18, 1995 in Paris. Migration Dialogue seminars provide an opportunity for 35 to 40 opinion leaders to discuss in an intensive and off-the-record setting the major immigration and integration issues facing the industrial democracies. Each seminar includes field trips, so that participants can learn about these issues directly from immigrants and immigration and integration authorities.
This report was prepared after the seminar, and is being distributed to participants in the Paris seminar, as well as previous Migration Dialogue seminars, and to other interested parties. It has not been read or approved by participants, and should not be construed as a consensus document discussed and debated by participants. An agenda and list of participants are attached.
The major question discussed in Paris was sharply focused: do fears that newcomers cannot integrate successfully prompt efforts to reduce or stop immigration flows? One participant argued forcefully that the answer is yes--the first step to deal with the integration of foreigners and their children is, in this opinion, to stop immigration. Only then could governments tackle the problems associated with integration, which range from the isolation of immigrants in housing and schools to federal-local tax and power issues.
Other participants did not agree that it was necessary to stop immigration in order to integrate newcomers. They emphasized that many of the problems identified with integrating immigrants would not necessarily be on the way to resolution if immigration simply stopped.
On the field trips, participants discussed the process for issuing residence permits to foreigners with immigration police, and accompanied them on walks through Sentier and Barbes, two garment districts with migrant workers in Paris. Participants visited the largest mosque in France, and heard from official Muslim leaders that fundamentalists were only a small fraction of the three to four million Muslims in France.
Participants visited Montfermeil, a subub outside Paris with a population of 26,000 that is composed of about one-third immigrants and their children. Immigrants there are concentrated in a handful of 1960s-era six-story apartment blocks, and their children attend schools that serve mostly immigrant children. To promote integration, the French government has hired additional social workers and added teachers, but has no plans to mix native-born and immigrant children through active public housing or transportation policies.
Because of security concerns arising from the recent bombings in Paris, schools were deemed off limits to visitors. In place of visiting a school with immigrant children, French teachers came to the meeting to discuss issues involved in educating immigrant children.
The number of people who would like to migrate is probably many times the number who actually do, so that increased potential migration does not necessarily result in a comparable increase in migrants. But widening differences, and wars and other crises, promise continued immigration despite recent efforts to reduce immigration into France, Germany, and the US. Dealing with unwanted immigration, it was emphasized, is likely to be a major challenge in the 21st century.
Continuing unwanted immigration highlights the growing gap between immigration policy goals and outcomes in industrial democracies. In few other areas of public policy is the credibility of governments so low. For example, French governments since 1974 have implied that immigration has stopped, reducing the credibility of the government when blue-collar workers observed immigrants moving into their neighborhoods. This is one reason why, in several European countries, political parties whose primary or major aim is to reassert control over immigration have obtained 10 to 20 percent of all votes.
There are two ways to look at this "nation of migrants." First, the nation of migrants is equivalent in size to the world's eighth most populous nation, Japan, and is growing faster than the world's population. Immigration is also contributing significantly to population growth in industrial democracies--it accounts for half or more of the population growth in countries such as the US and Canada, and immigration prevents population declines in low fertility nations such as Germany.
Second, many of the world's migrants are moving from relatively fast-growing and therefore "young" developing nations and toward aging societies. Aging and demographically stable societies may resist the social changes that accompany immigration. This means that a society's "demographic need" for immigrants may be the opposite of its willingness to accept them.
Third, there is no "natural" end in sight to the current wave of migrants. Population growth, economic disparities, and war and persecution are likely to continue to produce migrants and refugees for the foreseeable future, and most observers believe that the number of opportunity- and refugee-seeking migrants will increase rather than decrease in the 21st century.
On the other hand, those who believe that migration is a manageable challenge for the industrial democracies begin with the observation that the world's "nation of migrants" involves two percent, not 20 percent, of the world's population, despite demographic, economic, and other factors that might be expected to produce a world on the move. In other words, most people stay in their country of birth, despite more borders to cross, and more incentives to cross them.
For example, one of the world's major countries of emigration, Mexico, has 100 million people currently alive born within its borders, and over 90 percent of them still live in their country of birth. Over 90 percent of the 70 million persons born in the Philippines live there.
Furthermore, countries can control immigration. Germany's 1993 asylum reforms, some argue, were able to reduce by two-thirds the number of asylum applicants in that country without offsetting increases in illegal immigration.
But there is uncertainty and skepticism about the long-term effectiveness of immigration control measures. The US, for example, thought in the late 1980s that illegal immigration was under control, and that the economic boom would persist, so that the US increased the number of immigration slots both to unify families and to fill vacant jobs. These assumptions have proven false, prompting another round of immigration reforms aimed at reducing legal and illegal immigration.
The discussion found several points of agreement. First, settled immigrants should be naturalized citizens, but there is a sharp contrast between the US goal of encouraging naturalization, and France and Germany offering a naturalization option, but not encouraging naturalization. Many participants argued that Germany discourages naturalization.
Second, integration is easiest to achieve with young children in families that want to settle, which makes language and schools key instruments to ensure that newcomers are integrated by the second generation. Third, there is a relationship between immigration and integration, in the sense that a continued influx of foreigners may make immigrants less interested in integrating, and natives less willing to make the adaptations required for integration and may make the integration process in general more difficult.
However, what was striking were the apparent differences in the concept of integration. Blood (i.e. genetics) largely defines who is German, the ability to speak French largely defines who is French, and being born in the US, or learning some English and civics, defines Americans.
The discussion centered on several issues. First, exactly what are the trade-offs, if any, between continuing immigration and integration? What are the appropriate parameters--the number of immigrants, or how similar the newcomers are to current residents in language and religion? By how much is integration eased by an economic "need" for newcomers, or guilt over the plight of refugees or ethnic members abroad?
Second, is integration eased by governments that are forthright and clear in spelling out country priorities as to the annual number of immigrants, their characteristics, and their distribution by country of origin?
Third, to what extent is there a universal relationship between numbers of immigrants and ease of integration? Are there "waves" of immigrants precisely because large numbers of immigrants set in motion forces that eventually reduce immigration?
In the 1990s, for example, the US acquired its largest-ever number of "unwanted immigrants." Today, about two percent of the US population--some four to five million persons--are unauthorized or quasi-authorized aliens.
In other words, despite high levels of legal immigration, as many as 50 percent more "unwanted" foreigners are arriving in the US, and there are fears that the control systems in place cannot prevent their entry, or enforce their departure.
Europe faces a similar situation. Even though most European countries do not consider themselves countries of immigration, in 1992 some three million "foreigners" arrived in Western European nations.
There are many issues involved in integrating foreigners into their new host societies, but three stand out. First, the number of planned-for legal immigrants is at historic highs, and these immigrants are often quite different from resident populations in language, religion, and the ability to quickly earn as much as the native born.
The fact that many newcomers have low incomes raises issues as to how much governments should intervene and assist newcomers. Canada and Australia have programs that provide assistance to newcomers, the US provides such assistance mostly to refugees, and Germany confines special language and welfare assistance mostly to ethnic Germans who return to Germany and are immediately eligible to become German citizens.
Second, immigration societies today differ from the classic immigration countries at the turn of the century. There is less political consensus that assimilation into the host society's language and culture should occur as rapidly as possible, or even at all. Integrating institutions such as churches, the military, labor unions, and schools are smaller or less sure of their role in integrating newcomers today than they were in the past.
As one participant noted, a society must have confidence in its policies for integrating domestic minorities and poor persons if it is to develop an integration policy for foreigners. Policies that may be controversial in their own right, such as affirmative action or busing, may be doubly controversial when available to immigrants.
Third, integration is difficult when so many of the newcomers are in unauthorized or quasi-authorized legal statuses. At the turn of the century, immigrants to the US were presumed to want to settle, and Americanization tried to speed up their integration.
Today, countries do not have such simple either/or integration policies. They may want to integrate some immigrants rapidly, but encourage others, such as students and temporary workers, to adhere to their plans to leave when their education or employment is complete. But since all types of aliens may be in proximity to each other--sometimes in the same family--it is very hard to avoid contradictions between immigration control and integration policies.
However, France also provides a case study of how governments lose credibility on immigration by tolerating growing gaps between immigration policies and realities. France announced in 1974 that foreign workers from outside the EU could no longer enter France as probationary immigrants.
French politicians assured anxious publics that immigration had been stopped. However, family unification and illegal immigration continued. Local residents often failed to appreciate the categories through which newcomers entered; they only knew that foreigners were still arriving in their neighborhoods. As a result, governmental credibility declined to the point that, in some polls, the most credible spokesperson on immigration issues in France today is the National Front leader Jean-Marie Le Pen.
Continuing immigration has complicated the process of integrating especially the four to five million Muslims immigrants in France. At the beginning of the 20th century, France successfully integrated Italian and other Catholic immigrants by persuading them fairly quickly to learn French; familiarity with French and French culture also expedited the integration of immigrants from French colonies.
France is today debating how best to integrate Muslim and Black African immigrants who may have less appreciation for French and French culture. In some neighborhoods, as many as 30 different languages are spoken.
The list of problems attributed to or aggravated by immigrants in France is long, and this leads to the calls for an immigration stop. What is less clear is how to seek solutions, and where to start.
For example, some argue that the starting point for integrating immigrants in France is to start with their housing--demolish the high-rise apartment blocks that concentrate them far from jobs, and segregate immigrant children in schools.
Another key to integration, some believe, is to change the structure of the French government. France gives considerable power to mayors--many members of the National Assembly are also mayors--and the need to be re-elected allegedly prevents mayors from assembling and coordinating the regional resources necessary to help immigrants get access to housing, transportation, and jobs. A return to central power, it was argued, is necessary to get the French economy moving again, as well as to integrate foreigners by imposing sometimes unpopular housing and schooling policies at the local level.
Others would put more money into educating immigrants. There are two problems with this approach. First, hiring teachers for immigrant schools, or social workers for their parents, may not integrate immigrants already isolated from French children and jobs.
Second, France has little latitude for additional public expenditures. France already collects more of what the economy produces in taxes than any other major industrial country--44 percent of GDP was collected in taxes in 1993, versus 40 percent in Germany, and 30 percent in the US.
The new government in 1995 raised the minimum wage as well as the standard VAT or sales tax to 20 percent and, despite promises of deregulation to stimulate private sector job creation to reduce the 12 percent unemployment rate, the tradition of a strong central government in France makes it tempting to try to spend any additional integration resources in a top-down fashion, but with deference to local politicians.
Neither France nor Germany encourages immigrants to naturalize, but France makes naturalization easy for most children born in France.
However, Germany is reluctant to admit that it is a country of immigration, and thus it is hard to agree on a package of measures that immigration countries would consider natural, including explicit guidelines on who can immigrate and naturalize. Under German policies adopted in 1981, foreigners age 16 to 23, with 8 years residence and six years of German schooling, can be naturalized practically automatically.
Germans noted the significant differences between integration programs for ethnic Germans and other foreigners. Upon their arrival, descendants of Germans who emigrated to the former USSR--sometimes hundreds of years ago--are entitled to German citizenship as well as six months of language training, and welfare payments and job search assistance. Other newcomers, by contrast, do not have access to special integration services, although there are a variety of job training programs available to foreign-resident youth.
Muslim immigrants are a special concern in Germany, even though they are less than half of the immigrant population. There are widespread fears that fundamentalist teachers will turn disaffected youth into a potential anti-native underclass, but most efforts to head off such a result seem to be local and spontaneous rather than national efforts that most observers believe will work.
There was a lengthy discussion of why European governments who have acknowledged integration issues are so slow to act. Some French participants emphasized that there remain significant differences among EU countries in policies that range from naturalization to controlling drugs, so that immigration and integration issues are as likely to lead to confrontation among EU states rather than cooperation. Examples of "naturalization dumping"--Turks moving to France so that their children can more easily be naturalized--are undoubtedly rare, but are invoked to argue that Schengen border controls cannot be lifted right away.
Most economic and social indicators of integration indicate that foreigners are poorer and less educated than the native born. As with the US Black-white unemployment rate, the unemployment rate for foreign workers in Germany is twice the rate for the native born. More detailed analyses indicate that there are also significant differences in economic indicators by ethnic group, with the most different groups--Turks in Germany, or Blacks and Muslims in France--at the bottom of labor market and earnings pyramids.
The current wave of immigrants to the US is becoming "Americanized" but, since most newcomers move into central cities filled with a US underclass, many immigrants are integrating by adapting to central city values, including illegitimate births, welfare, and crime.
The "group integration" of the US allows the characteristics of a subgroup to represent the entire group. Even though less than one-fourth of the roughly 15 million foreign-born Hispanics in the US are illegal immigrants, Latino immigrants are often tagged with the illegal label.
According to some Americans, the major mechanism for integrating minority groups, including immigrants, are the tools developed in the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. It is for this reason, it is argued, that Latino immigrants have adopted the position of a minority needing government assistance to be integrated in the US.
Latinos, in this view, had the bad luck to arrive in the US at a time when the Civil Rights instruments of integration have been discredited, but before other integration instruments were developed.
Opinion on immigration in the US has been volatile and has changed quickly over the past year. In the early 1990s, there was discussion of new federal expenditures to expedite the integration of immigrants. In 1995, there is widespread agreement that legal and illegal immigration should be reduced, and the social service system scaled back.
The US must deal with three areas that affect the integration of immigrants as well as other fundamental aspects of US society. First, what services will the government provide, and on what terms? Second, what happens to the US assumption of upward mobility in a static economy? Third, what policies will the US develop to broker ethnic differences?
Governments on both sides of the Atlantic are scaling back the welfare state, and deregulating their economies. As a result, immigrants will have to fend more for themselves in restructuring economies and societies.
Early this century, immigrants fending for themselves in industrializing America achieved substantial social and economic upward mobility, and in many cases helped to produce the modern welfare state as a reaction against some attributes of market economies. It is not clear what immigrants fending for themselves in post-industrial and slow growing societies will produce.
Could the industrial democracies that are trying to reduce unwanted immigration provide emigration countries with trade, investment, and aid in a manner that reduces unwanted immigration? And, if trade concessions are opposed by some sectors of immigration countries, such as farmers and steel workers, can the fear of unwanted migration be used to nonetheless adopt free-trade policies?
In 1990, the "One-World Group" of European public television networks produced a film, "The March" designed to show viewers that it would be better to provide more aid to Africa than to deal with the arrival of desperate African migrants. There is no evidence that such efforts to convince taxpayers to step up development assistance have succeeded; aid budgets have not increased significantly.
In spite of demand-pull, supply-push, and network factors that could be expected to increase migration across borders, only about two percent of the world's population lives outside their country of citizenship, and less than 10 percent of the population of most industrial countries were born abroad.
The most significant economic policy change in the 1990s is the worldwide shift toward free markets. In industrial countries, market opening is evidenced by free trade pacts, including the EU-92 program in Europe, and by the deregulation of labor and other markets.
But the adoption of free market programs has been most noticeable in several of the major developing countries from which many migrants come. Mexico, Turkey, and the Philippines, for example, have announced ambitious plans to privatize state-run industries, open themselves to free trade and investment, and deregulate their labor and product markets.
These free market policies should, over time, speed up economic, job, and wage growth, and thus reduce economically-motivated migration. But the transition from a closed to an open economy is neither easy nor assured of success.
Indeed, most economists believe developing nations that embrace free market policies first experience increased pressures favoring outmigration. This makes it very hard for an industrial country such as the US to embrace freer trade with an emigration country such as Mexico. US opponents of such free trade policies can complain that jobs will flee south, while workers will flee north, and this job loss-migration hump may persist for a generation or more.
Furthermore, free trade policies may not succeed. There is no assurance that simply adopting such policies will automatically produce faster growth. Free market policies tend to have high failure rates, for reasons that include corruption, the replacement of public monopoly with private monopoly, and policy mistakes.
In light of the migration hump and uncertainty of success, why embrace free trade and investment? The answer is simple--there is no alternative strategy that has proven its ability to accelerate economic growth and thereby reduce emigration pressure.
Free trade enables emigration countries to grow their way out of emigration pressure--both countries ride up the escalator toward more jobs and higher wages, but the emigration country rises faster, much as Europe "caught up" with the US in the 1960s. There is an alternative--wage gaps can also be lessened by the migration of workers from low to higher wage countries, reducing the growth of wages in industrial democracies.
But a migration-induced narrowing of wage differences has different socio-economic consequences. Emigration areas that live off remittances can turn into bedroom communities for foreign labor markets, so that migration depresses wages in the immigration country, and does not generate stay-at-home development. The result can be dependence on a foreign labor market, and tensions over immigration.
Second, industrial countries often urge emigration nations to adopt free trade policies, but then they restrict imports of precisely those goods that emigration nations are most capable of exporting, such as agricultural and labor-intensive commodities.
Third, there is no assurance that free trade policies will "work." Success depends on many factors, including confidence, and policy mistakes can quickly turn a country such as Turkey or Mexico from success to pariah. In many cases, it makes little sense for a government to adopt the free trade and investment policies if the "fundamentals" are not in place. There is probably little current investor interest in, for example, Algeria, even if the government rolled out the red carpet for foreign investors, and this situation is likely to persist until the conflict is resolved.
In 1994, the OECD countries provided $58 billion in aid to developing nations. However, much of this aid flows from one government to another, and little of it is concentrated in emigration areas to deter emigration.
France is Europe's traditional country of immigration. France was practically unique in having an early fertility decline beginning as early as the late 18th century, and fear of population decline that would make the country more vulnerable to rival Germany prompted both pro-natalist and expansionary immigration policies. France was among the world's first countries to develop an immigration system, and France has what is for Europe an easy path to naturalization.
The second unique aspect about French immigration is the so-called "Republican model" of integration, which asserts the need for a commonality of French language and culture--both French rural-urban migrants as well as immigrants were expected to learn French and behave as the French do in public. Any language, religious, or cultural differences should be celebrated only in private.
This system worked reasonably well to integrate European immigrants, and immigrants from former French colonies familiar with the French language and culture. Today, almost one in three French residents is believed to have at least one foreign-born grandparent.
These integrating institutions assured that children born or educated in France considered themselves French as adults. The French, in turn, were confident that they could use their language and culture to integrate foreigners--foreigners from any of the 27 countries that use French as an official language, such as Belgium and Lebanon, can naturalize as soon as they receive residence permits in France, instead of waiting for at least two years.
Today, there is less certainty in France and elsewhere that past integrating instruments will work for today's immigrants. One thing that makes France unique is that, unlike other immigration countries that are experimenting with bilingual education and religious diversity in public places, many French policy makers resist changing policies that have "worked." Others say that it is high time that France wake up to the new immigration, the new Europe, and the new world of migration.
Several areas of Paris, such as Sentier near the Gare du Nord, are known to harbor significant numbers of illegal alien workers. France until 1991 attempted to curb illegal alien employment by removing illegal alien workers from workplaces, and perhaps from France. Since 1991, immigration police and labor inspectors put much more emphasis on sanctioning employers and labor smugglers-middlemen.
In 1991, the French developed a fax system that enables employers to check on the legal status of newly hired workers--employers fax copies of residence and work permits to the police and labor departments and, if there is no response from the authorities, the worker is legal. The percentage of newly-hired workers believed by these departments to be unauthorized in targeted industries such as garments has fallen from one-third to 10 percent.
Immigration and labor inspectors receive tips from other employers, and from each other, about places in which illegal aliens are employed. Since 1993, they have another source of tips--employers must report newly-hired workers at least eight days before hiring them to social security, not within eight days of putting them to work. In this way, inspectors can be alerted by the social security system before illegal workers go to work.
The Sentier area is a garment manufacturing district that hires significant numbers of illegal aliens in sewing lofts above display shops. There is a general level of tolerance for illegal behavior in the area, from traffic violations to prostitution. However, tightened labor law enforcement has apparently pushed much of the sewing involving illegal workers to the suburbs.
The French government has recently taken several highly visible steps against illegal immigration, including the chartering of airplanes to return illegal aliens to their countries of origin. For historical reasons, the government is careful with both the language and the form of transportation--aliens are returned, not deported, and planes rather than trains are used to take aliens to borders, partly because of fears that opponents of such policies will associate them with Nazi deportations by train during World War II.
Most experts believe that the charter airplanes are symbolic actions. They point to a host of problems. It is expensive to charter planes, and so the authorities wait until they have a plane load of aliens. But French law permits detention of aliens awaiting return for only 10 days, so that, if a full plane load of aliens is not available, the government must set aliens free or take off with a partial load. Many countries refuse to accept back persons who do not have papers proving that they are e.g., Algerians.
The result was a contradictory "policy" toward integration that satisfied no one. Indeed, French teachers asserted that with respect especially to young foreign children from homes in which the parents wanted their children to learn French, it is feasible and desirable to take non-French speakers into regular French classes and, within several months, have the foreign children speaking and working in French. This immersion approach, they noted, also helped to integrate the foreigners socially.
In Germany, foreign children have had the right to attend K-12 schools since 1964. Germany is sensitive about the problems involved in integrating older foreign children--especially those older than 10 when they arrive in Germany.
Germany has a decentralized school system--each Land or state is responsible for developing a curriculum, including how to teach foreign children. German regulations have changed to prohibit family unification of children over age 15, under the theory that older children will be unable to learn enough in German schools to succeed on the German labor market.
The German experience can be seen as a half empty or half full glass. Optimists note that the number of foreign children completing the vocational training for which Germany is famous has been rising, as has the number of foreign children who go to university-preparatory schools (Gymnasium).
However, pessimists note that more than 40 percent of foreign youth fail to finish the equivalent of high school and, of those who obtain vocational training, many of the foreign children select sunset occupations such as mechanic or hairdresser. German handicraft employers such as bakers are willing to take on foreign apprentices, but some fear that these declining industries might be using foreigners as cheap workers.
In France, recent immigrants often find themselves stranded in housing developments in Paris suburbs such as Monfermeil about one-third of whose 26,000 residents are foreign. The area has no direct transportation into Paris, and offers little industry and few jobs. The few who are employed must travel more than an hour to low-paying jobs in Paris. Los Bosquets, which occupies three percent of the town, has 20 percent of its 20,000 population--most of whom are first- or second-generation immigrants. Unemployment is 25 percent.