With rapid integration of economies, immigration has become an issue at both international and national level. Many countries today integrate their economies for stability and growth. To achieve such goals, a majority of developed countries seek to gain an advantage by including immigrants into their labor force to feel gaps. Today, immigrants are viewed as a source of skills. Immigrant labor comes with diversity and capable of contributing positively to the economy of the host country. To achieve better results with such work, a majority of host countries have sought to incorporate immigrants into their societies permanently. In previous decades, immigrants were only viewed as temporary residents. However, this notion has changed in a bid to integrate and offer them permanent residence as well as inclusion into their societies.
Such integration has resulted in an influx of immigrants into developed countries, especially OECD. Many states have allowed such immigrants to reunite with their loved ones to include them in economic development. The essay will therefore focus on the fac tors and aspects that surround “International Immigrant Incorporation”.
Canada is among the leading immigrant destinations because of its stable economy and a small population. By increasing its labor force, the country relies on the inclusion of immigrants within its borders. Subsequently, the efforts to incorporate migrants have been met by several issues especially after the terrorist attack on the American soil on September 11, 2001. Many countries put in place more strict measures out of fear of an assault. However, this has not discouraged many nations from including skilled and semi-skilled foreigners into their borders.
Several issues are visible within countries that let in immigrants. When seeking to incorporate such workers and their families, issues occur at two levels. The first one is the national level, followed by the local level. At the national level, immigrant incorporation issues are concerned with policies that offer rights to new citizens as well as gaining the necessary paperwork and documentation. The national level is also concerned with legal and political issues. On the other hand, the local level deals with education, assimilating and offering a sense of belonging. It also deals with incorporating immigrant individuals into the economic participation and community building. Incorporation at these levels comes with its difficulties and challenges that a majority of the host countries have grappled with for several years. The focus of this paper is to look at the issues that surround the incorporation of international immigrants into the host country at both the national and local level with a particular focus on Canada while still looking at other nations such as the United States and Europe for comparison.
At the national level, migrant incorporation issues are mostly concerned with policies of inclusion, legal documentation, and regulations. Recently, the majority of the host countries have adopted new policies that allow immigrants to apply for permanent residence and to become citizens. Governments determine the criteria as well as requirements and qualification that immigrants must fulfill to attain citizenship. They also determine their legal rights to ensure protection as well as a chance to equal opportunities. However, several issues have been noted especially in Canada, which has a traditional immigrant system.
One of the primary qualifications or requirement for one to become a citizen has been education or level of skills. Traditionally, immigrants with degrees and technical expertise are viewed as more eligible than lowly skilled ones. This has been the main criteria for entry into the Canadian international migration system. While this is considered nondiscriminatory and a legitimate condition for determining eligibility into the host country, it has raised serious concerns as Stuart Tannock reiterates in his article, “Points of Prejudice. Education-Based Discrimination in Canada's Immigration System”.
He argues that using level of education as a gauge for determining entry into the country is discriminatory in two ways. The first one is contributing to the creation of "second class tier of the immigrants who are not recognized by the state as possessing high levels of skills or education,". As a result of lack of recognition as highly skilled, such immigrants are not granted equal rights and protection accorded to all citizens of a country. Furthermore, such immigrants are faced with challenges when it comes to securing employment. A majority of semi-skilled migrants end up working in temporary programs or as illegal immigrants who cannot defend civil rights. The issue of creating second class tier immigrants can often lead to poor lives for such people in future. Additionally, it can result in abuse or exploitation because of lack of civil rights afforded to all citizens.
The second reason that Tannock argues against the use of education as an entry determinant is the resulting global inequality and injustice because of brain drain. By tapping into less developed countries with generous and attractive offers for highly skilled workers, the sending country is left grappling with a shortage of professionals who can contribute to its development. This is an injustice considering a majority of the poorer nations invest heavily in their education. The majority of such countries do not realize back their investments because it is taken away by the developed countries with enough wealth to lure the most educated individuals from their nations. As a result, the country losing talent and skills remains weak and dependent on the developed countries that have all the skills.
In addition to the two main arguments cited by Tannock, other issues are evident as a result of using education as the entry level. Statistics indicate that a majority of the applicants happen to be males. In Canada, the figures show the percentage of immigrants applying for residence as 75. This is three times the number of women applying for the same. In most of the countries where a majority of immigrants hail from, a significant inequality in education between men and females exists. Women in such nations do not have equal access to higher education as men do. Also, there are disregard informal skills gained by immigrants in their countries. This means that majority of women do not qualify for citizenship because they lack formal higher education. Subsequently, the majority of women immigrating to Canada require the same rights accorded to other immigrants with higher levels of skills, ultimately causing gender discrimination.
Another issue raised by the education criteria system used in Canada is its ability to foster racism and ethnic discrimination. Statistics indicate that majority of highly skilled migrants happen to be white and from developed or developing countries. This means that it discriminates against countries that have low levels of higher education. These countries happen to be the third world, where the majority is non-white. Additionally, the society is predisposed to prejudice about some communities. It is no wonder that many students cite facing discrimination and negative image that alienates them at school. For instance, James and Taylor, provide testimonies of black students who claim that teachers discriminate them based on what they heard. Such students are faced with a challenge of trying to create a real image, which sometimes does not work as the teachers are predisposed to stereotypes and prejudice against them. One student states that "if they think you are bad; nothing is going to change that even when you are good,". Although this is mainly covered at the local level, it stems from the national policies that start the discrimination at entry levels.
Another issue surrounding international immigrant assimilation is policies and regulations. In most countries, the government only offers citizenship but never bothers with ways of accommodating newcomers. Many states have not implemented any controls laws that govern or protect the rights of immigrants. The consequence has been exploitation of migrants especially when it comes to accessing equal opportunities. To a large extent, this determines how natives at the local level treat migrants. The majority will view them as foreigners or second-class citizens without equal rights. As a result, such immigrants find it difficult to file lawsuits in case they are wronged. For this reason, it is paramount that governments at national level set the policies that people and other institutions at the local level can adopt or use as guidelines
Another issue at the national level is a lack of co-ordination between the federal government and local societies. While the government can only make policies such as entry criteria, it is not in a good position to incorporate them within the communities they join. While the purpose of the national government is making the policies, the local level, where the immigrants reside, should be at the forefront in informing the course of action. According to OECD, having an adequate coordination between business institutions, local communities, and governments where the action takes place determines the success of incorporating immigrants. The OECD paper titled, From Immigration to Integration, asserts the need for public institutions at different levels working together to find an ideal mix of policies that serves both the country and immigrants right. Finding such a combination has been a challenge to not only Canada but a majority of the OECD countries.
The local level is where the most action of incorporation occurs. While the national level creates the policies and regulations governing entry and integration, the local level that includes, communities, societies, public and private institutions as well as cities and municipalities are responsible for the action of incorporating immigrants. Once newcomers enter the borders of the host country, they look for places to settle, most likely where their people reside such as families and relatives. Also, immigrants interact with the natives at a local level where they seek employment and services of daily needs and amenities. All policies made at the national level are implemented at the local level. For this reason, integration at the local level is the most crucial for achieving desired success in the endeavor of migrant inclusion. Naturally, welcoming new people comes with challenges that need tackling to achieve cohesiveness within the communities. Some of the issues occurring at local level tend to relate to individual experiences and predisposition. In the examples mentioned above of students facing discrimination, the teachers are predisposed to adverse or prejudicial information that determines how they treat students. However, when it comes to issues of migration incorporation, more factors are at play.
One of the issues surrounding incorporation foreign immigrants’ integration at local levels includes the efforts by host countries to assimilate instead of adopting a multicultural approach. Recently, Canada has introduced the multicultural approach that allows for full participation. Assimilation, on the one hand, seeks to integrate the newcomers into the host country culture, which can be demanding and inconsiderate of the migrants. This approach worked before the need for offering permanent residence. However, with permanent residence, migrants need to reunite with their families, some of whom may not be familiar with the host country culture. As a result, many migrants have formed communities within the host countries that can no longer be ignored when making decisions at the governance level.
According to Castles, migration of people from one place to another in search of employment always leads to ethnic settlements as immigrants seek to reunite with their families. As a result, it is no longer possible to incorporate newcomers into a host country without considering their culture. It is necessary to recognize the culture and ways of life including languages, to integrate migrants successfully. The aspect offers them a sense of belonging to the host country, consequently encouraging them to undertake more economic and social activities with devotion as native citizens. Using a multicultural approach increases chances of full integration while reducing chances of discrimination and racism as residents recognize the new cultures as a part of their community within the larger or mainstream society.
The other issue surrounding or hindering incorporation of the new citizens has been racism within different facets of the community such as education, housing, and politics. Education is one of the main areas that suffer significantly under this issue. For instance, James and Taylor offer examples of discrimination of black students within the education system in the United States. Many students cite a negative image, which they attribute to the misconceptions and assumptions about them by teachers. They are left to face a challenge of proving their worth as good students, which makes it difficult to achieve highly. In another example, Lopez indicates how negative image of Black and Latino students in New York has resulted in inequality between the numbers of male students graduating high school compared to that of the female. She indicates that majority of the male students find it difficult to complete their education due to negative image where they are viewed as threatening. Girls, on the other hand, are seen as less threatening and receive sympathetic treatment. As a result, more black and Latino girls than boys manage to graduate from their schools, including college.
Although such inequality is not evident in Canada, it goes to portray what can result from discrimination of minorities within a host country. To tackle such a problem, both national and local authorities responsible for incorporation need to recognize and create policies that incorporate a new culture. However, this is easier said than done considering it requires changing the minds of natives, who at most times can be resistant to changes.
At the workplace, such discriminations can determine achievement, particularly where it comes to promotions. Also, some host countries have been known to offer the lesser paying jobs to the natives. Also, companies may not provide all the benefits that come with a position to a migrant. The issue can also be attributable to lack of rights for the newcomers. To a large extent, discrimination and racism at workplace contribute to the living conditions of migrant workers.
The majority of newcomers prefer areas with low costs of living to make both ends meet. This also results in many migrants living in a zone that often leads to congestion. To no surprise, such areas lack proper amenities and essential services. Such poor living conditions further result in challenges to such minorities, who end up seeking other alternative means of income. Some, such as in the United States are blamed for an increase in the rate of crime. While this might be true, it is a direct consequence of the lack of incorporation of migrants into the host countries that force many of them to undertake illegal activities. Also, the majority of them face harsher penalties for minor infractions than natives do.
Another issue that revolves around the incorporation of international immigrants, particularly in the workplace, is a lack of proper information concerning their past employment and experience. Many employers are ill-equipped on how to realize the full potential of employing newcomers. A majority do not have the necessary resources to align their skills with positions or jobs that best fit their skills. Migrants too, have very little or hardly any knowledge or information of their new places of work. They find a different culture and work ethics. Without proper resources to guide them, it becomes quite a challenge to incorporate them into the labor force. Consequently, such immigrants end up under-achieving in the workplace or taking too long to adapt to the new environment. This further leads to poor rating during appraisals, which can create an image of incompetence that can, in future, affect their career progress. Mitigating such shortcomings is important for institutions at the local level to offer programs that provide experience to migrants in their respective areas of skills before placing them for permanent employment. The aspect can bridge the gap that exists when it comes to transferring skills from their country to the host one.
Another issue surrounding the integration of newcomers into host countries is language barriers. Many of the migrants coming into a host country may not be eloquent in the native languages, which can result in communication barrier. While a majority of international immigrants choose countries with languages they are familiar with; they still face challenges associated with different ways in which language is used in a new place. Currently, Canada is among the countries seeking to achieve higher levels of proficiency to incorporate newcomers into the service industry, where communication skills are paramount.
Evidently, several issues surface when it comes to the incorporation of international immigrants into a host country as discussed in this paper. Many countries especially highly developed ones have experienced a steady growth of immigrants who are in search of greener pastures. As a result, the need for incorporating such people is no longer just about assimilation of individuals into mainstream cultures, but also about integration of new cultures and races into the host countries. The need for more skilled labor has seen such countries continue to tap into other countries for labor migrants. For this reason, it is clear that incorporation of migrants is crucial. However, it remains a significant challenge at both national and local levels. Among the major issues surrounding integration at a national level include policy formulation, entry criteria and brain drain in the sending countries. For Canada, the education-based entry has resulted in discrimination and inequalities. There is a need for better entry approach to incorporate migrants and their families. Success is achievable through recognizing the needs of migrants as opposed to just assimilating individuals into the mainstream culture.
The local level on the other hand presents the most challenges considering policies formulated at the national level are practiced at this level. For this reason, it is necessary to increase the coordination between the two levels. While the national level formulates the policies, the local one should inform them considering it is responsible for their implementation. At this level, issues can arise from different facets that include education, workplace, discrimination and racism and local authorities. However, the important thing to note is the need for a multicultural integration approach that recognizes new cultures and diversity. Such an approach also creates a sense of belonging that can encourage migrants to participate in the affairs of the country, such as economic development, education, and the political arena. Also, another issue to note is the effects that discrimination and racism can have on migrant children. While teachers may have prejudicial sentiments concerning migrant students, which determine how they treat such students within a class. It is important to note that it results in long-term detriment and does not offer any help. Instead, it is vital for communities at the local level to recognize the need for embracing different cultures as a part of the mainstream one that is necessary in development of the nation.