EUROPEANS RESISTANT TO IMMIGRATION
In recent years, the increasing rate of large-scale immigration has altered local communities all around the world, disrupting many countries’ notions of national identity. In some cases, this has caused extreme anxiety and social unrest in affected communities.
In many European nations, the local populations feel that globalization is weakening their cultures, and are thus tightening their grip on their identity, culture, language, and values. As a result, they shun the immigrants whose cultures would diversify their own culture. Residency and citizenship requirements have been made more harsh, so as to make the immigrants conform to local norms and practices before being allowed to stay in their country.
Many European nationals feel that too much change is taking place too quickly. They fear that this change will have negative impacts on their communities, and that they will not be able to adapt quickly enough. The negative impacts include overburdening the education, transportation, and public safety systems. In addition, there is also concern that there will be unequal distribution of public goods and resources.
In order to ease tensions and make the immigration process smooth for both immigrants and local communities, there are ten steps that need to be taken by political leaders:
1. Political leaders must listen to their constituents and show them that they understand their concerns.
2. Political leaders must help citizens to build a sense of “ownership” in the integration process by getting them all involved in building the future generation of cultural norms. This will make them feel like they have ownership over the immigration process.
3. Political leaders must emphasize that national identity should be in the process of developing instead of remaining constant – that it needs to be more inclusive instead of exclusive.
4. Policies should allow multiple identities to coexist in the same communities instead of being separated.
5. Policy needs to be established that outlines specific and clear procedures in obtaining permanent residence and citizenship. These policies must then be implemented impartially.
6. States should offer practical, nonpunitive integration assistance to the newly incoming immigrants.
7. Policy needs to be created that focuses integration efforts in workplaces and schools, because those are the places where integration occurs most naturally.
8. Political leaders should focus their efforts on assisting all populations at risk, not just immigrants. Otherwise, disadvantaged citizens will be angered that the government is helping immigrants instead of its own citizens.
9. States should legislate cultural practices as a last resort, not a first impulse.
10. Political leaders should set an example when it comes to interacting with immigrant populations. They should do so through both political language and through their actions.
If these steps are taken, it is very probable that tensions over immigration will be eased and that local communities will be more and understanding of and welcoming of immigrants.