People around the world.
Since the turn of the century, there has been a growing movement of people around the world. They travel across countries and continents, whether for exploration, economic opportunities, financial necessity or war. To many, those travels can lead to permanent settlements, living and working in a foreign country. To some, the residents of the adopted country can become part of the community and culture. The name that is used to identify those people is ‘immigrants’.
Nowadays, we can find immigrants spread across the world. As transportation continues to improve, such movements are most likely to increase tenfold, if they have not already. Never before has it been easier to live and study in a different country, learning new languages and cultures. In addition, words such as ‘globalisation’ and ‘sharing economy’ are common nouns in the English dictionary. While these global developments continue, it is not always explicit whether the receivers of immigrants, governments or citizens, welcome such changes.
How are immigrants around the world received?
According to the United Nations, some leading countries that receive immigrants include the United States, Germany, South Africa, Australia and United Arab Emirates. Though such countries seem to provide access and opportunities for foreigners, the process of doing so can be challenging.
The United States.
In the United States, there has been a drive for tighter immigration policies, with attempts for much more skilled workers entering the country. According to a report from the Migration Policy Institute ‘new application vetting requirements, cuts in refugee admissions and scaling back of temporary protections for some noncitizens’. Though such subtle readjustments may seem negligible, they can, nonetheless, make a difference in the overall landscape of the country. Despite those changes, the U.S. has been very active on the ground in dispelling such notions,. It has provided opportunities to refugees, asylum seekers and immigrants in general. Organisations such as the International Refugees Assistance Project ‘provides legal advocacy for refugees and displaced people in need of a safe place to call home’. Others like the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights ‘works to defend and expand the rights of all immigrants and refugees, regardless of immigration status’.
In other countries such as South Africa, immigrants have been cited as providing a significant economic contribution to the country. There, immigrants ‘appear well-integrated in the labour market, demonstrate high employment rates, and may also generate additional employment opportunities for native-born workers’ according to OECD’s report How Immigrants Contribute to South Africa’s Economy.
While such immigration policies have resulted in positive benefits to immigrants and locals alike, surveys confirm ‘high levels of xenophobic sentiment across population groups and social classes’. The White Paper on International Migration in South Africa highlighted the importance of migration policies. It currently reflects harmful perceptions towards migrants. Though such research and publications are great in helping resolve these issues, citizens and community projects are also large influencers in creating change. One example of this can be seen at the African Diaspora Forum which was created to tackle the reactions of xenophobic aggression in the country. The organisation came about from citizens and community leaders requesting for a platform to discuss and find solutions for an integrated society. Projects include awareness campaigns, city workshops, crisis management, education and policing and safety.
Community-based solutions for immigration.
As people around the world continue to relocate and settle down in new countries, the topography is changing. Many immigrants are part of the community, celebrating the customs and traditions of that city. Others may retain a mixture of different cultures. While governments provide immigration policies that may favour that change, citizens and community projects are huge contributors to the integration process.
Organisations such as the German Immigration Foundation (Deutschlandstiftung Integration in German) provides access to education, work and social participation. In particular, the organisation promotes integration for migrants into the job market through mentoring and scholarship programs. Initiatives like the ‘Go Your Way’ that focuses on young adults with immigrant backgrounds to pursue career progression. The mentors all have particular skills and experience. They help the participants with guidance and opportunities for a period of two years. The project started in 2012 with growing success as graduates find career prospects in Germany but moreover, are part of the social society. Another initiative that started in 2020 is called ‘We Pack It Up Together’. It focuses on school students in their last two years of school. The program provides training and mentoring for completion of school as well as job-related goals.
Another organisation that advocates immigration solutions is the Australian Migrant Resource Centre. It offers many activities including sports and recreation, community support programs, settlement services and arts and cultural events. The organisation supports a variety of programs to facilitate integration, from employment opportunities to social involvement projects.
Some examples such as the ‘Women’s Employment into Actions’ gives training, work experience and mentoring to migrants and refugee women. Individuals seek employment opportunities after learning a skill, opening new avenues for living in the country. Another very useful program that is there is their ‘Financial Education and Emergency Relief’ that assists in teaching financial management. This includes budgeting and counselling, targeting specific needs of people. This in turn, can greatly improve the needs of immigrants and the country in general. Some other activities that are also available include, the ‘Football Federation of South Australia Multicultural Program’ and their ‘Surf Life Saving’ club that focus on community engagement efforts.
Though governments have large effects on how to handle cultural assimilation, I personally believe that individual attitude and community involvement can set the tone and direction of immigration in the future. Organisations such as the German Immigration Foundation or the Australian Migration Resource Centre, are just two of such establishments.