by Ralph Schoellhammer
Thursday, 1
December 2022
Analysis
10:15

Germany’s new immigration law is doomed to fail

Olaf Scholz's proposal does not address the root causes of migration
by Ralph Schoellhammer
Credit: Getty.

In a planned reform of its immigration system, Germany has decided to make it easier for its migrant population to become German citizens. Call it a reverse-Sweden, if you will. At first glance, Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s proposal seems quite reasonable — the country’s bureaucratic apparatus is tedious and makes it difficult to integrate new arrivals, even if they possess skills valuable for the labour market. 

After all, research institutions have estimated that the German economy would need approximately 400,000 qualified immigrants each year to keep the industry going and  — probably even more importantly — to ensure the sustainability of the pension system.


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But, as so often with German politics, one needs to ask whether this sudden offensive for easier migration is a vision of the future or an attempt to paper over mistakes of the past. Since the great migration wave of 2015 local communities have struggled to manage the influx of people into their jurisdictions, something that has not abated in the following years. 

Many still remember how politicians and economists alike promised then that a million refugees would kick-start a second Renaissance for the economy. This Renaissance never materialised, not least due to the fact that the number of skilled workers in these migration waves was small, while almost 17% of newcomers can neither read nor write, making integration, both economically and culturally, ever trickier. 

As a consequence, over 300,000 people are currently stranded in Germany, their asylum claims denied, with no access to the labour market. Yet the government in Berlin has neither the will nor the means to return them to their home countries. The newly proposed law package would offer a “second chance” to these immigrants, most of whom come from Iraq, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Russia, Serbia, Iran or Turkey. 

The promise is that, this time, things will be different: an overhauled immigration system will resemble those of Canada or the United States, only attracting the best of the best. This would be a necessary course correction, especially since over 50% of the recipients of unemployment benefits have a non-German background.

The new law is supposed to grant more power to potential employers who know better than the state whom they need to hire; and factors like education, age, work experience and language skills could lead to residency permits even if the person in question has neither a job nor an income in Germany. While this would most certainly lower entry barriers, a lot of decision-making still rests with the federal government, leaving room for interpretation that could once again reinforce the mass-migration of unskilled labour.

Despite all its ambitions, the new proposal does not present a detailed strategy explaining why, for example, a highly educated citizen of India should prefer Germany to the United States or Canada. While Germany does suffer from a labour shortage, much of this is not due to a lack of qualified people, but rather a system that creates incentives to work as little as possible while collecting government support. A key part of this is the constantly increasing tax burden, including a current discussion of an additional energy-levy on the top 20% of German taxpayers. None of these prospects makes the country attractive for potential high-income earners. As a consequence, it remains questionable whether the new law will really address the root causes of the migration question. 

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Mr Sketerzen Bhoto
Mr Sketerzen Bhoto
2 months ago

400,000 a year to pay today’s pensioners would mean that to pay their pension in 30-40 years the country will need 800,000 people. And so on. Plugging pension gaps with more people is a Ponzi scheme.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
2 months ago

On the face of it that would seem to be the case (Ponzi scheme simile).. What might be the alternative in your view?
1. Extending retirement age? Aside from pensions we must alsofactor in the increasing cost of basic and medical care both growing well above inflation.
2. Forced euthanasia?
Just curious to know what if any suggestions you might have? I have some of my own but it’s your turn first..

Dylan Regan
Dylan Regan
2 months ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

The solution is both simple and obvious, raise the retirement age in line with increasing life expectancy

0 0
0 0
2 months ago
Reply to  Dylan Regan

Wrong. The solution is to make it more worthwile to work thsn stay at home collecting very generous benefits i.e. reduce benefits for able bodied persons who do not work.

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
2 months ago
Reply to  0 0

Dylan is not wrong – your point is a valid addition – which provides no counter argument.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
2 months ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

I think you have missed the point. Large sale immigration does not provide any tangible benefits. It just allows the government to fiddle the books for another few years while at the same time creating even more serious and intractable problems for the medium and long term
Time to accept that we have been living beyond our means in an unsustainable way and take our medicine
No need to thank me

Last edited 2 months ago by Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
2 months ago

The persistent myth that mass immigration is economically beneficial needs to be persistently debunked. We need to judge it on the basis of GDP per capita, not simply GDP – just as the performance of a business is not assessed on its turnover.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
2 months ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

What fo you suggest might be better criteria upon which to judge the success or otherwise of migration? ..omitting racist and xenophobic ‘benefits’ I mean.

hayden eastwood
hayden eastwood
2 months ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Absolutely correct: GDP per capita in the UK is the same now as it was in 2007. But house prices, cost of living and almost everything else has gone up. In the case of houses, doubling in many areas of the country.
In short, in 15 years we have all become far poorer.

Japan, with no mass migration policy, has had at least some growth in GDP per capita during the same period. But keep in mind that they have had deflation over the same period. So, in fact, far from being in the doldrums as a result of a falling and ageing population, they are in fact quite clearly better off than the UK.
And this is before we measure the intangibles: less congestion on public transport, easing of demand for housing, more green space, etc etc

j watson
j watson
2 months ago

Japan – the largest public debt in the western world too. So the idea they’ve squared this successfully too early to conclude. They are arguably better at aligning policy – serious discussion of retirement age moving to 77, and additional payments into LTCF, and investment in automation and high-tech support. But even with this they are pondering easing immigration rules and have significant inter-generational equity issues. They are also less able to use monetary policy to address macro-economic issues. Nonetheless we’ll all see how this plays out, we just shouldn’t suggest they’ve cracked it…yet.

Gordon Black
Gordon Black
2 months ago

“… almost 17% of newcomers can neither read nor write …” I would have guessed nearer 99% who could not read or write German.

Samuel Ross
Samuel Ross
2 months ago

I’m afraid the immigration system of the US of A is not as amazing as this author seems to think. Come in and “claim asylum”, and you’ll probably be here for life. Your kids will be citizens, due to “birthright citizenship”. You will certainly not be expelled. It’s my personal view, although there is no data for this, that there’s more than 60 million illegal (undocumented) immigrants living in the United States. The 11 million figure that people keep quoting to you has been stagnant for the last 20 years. No one ever updates it, and these people obviously cannot be counted, because they are invisible to census takers, etc. On occasion, Democrat lawmakers put forth bills to allow non-citizens to vote. This was successfully done in NY State, although it was struck down by the courts. Still, many localities throughout the US allow non-citizens to vote in “local elections”. The sum of all this is that America’s immigration system is not good. To put it mildly.

Peter Dennett
Peter Dennett
2 months ago

I was in Germany in June and I found that in the intervening 5 years, German culture had taken a hit in order to accommodate migrants and refugees.
Solving a problem and in the process creating another problem is just kicking the can down the road. Having lived and worked in Germany for a long period of time and generally understanding the people and culture well, I would say that guilt plays a large roll in the acceptance of such foolish actions but successive governments. Sure, refugees must be accommodated, fed and kept safe, but using a post WW2 band-aid solution for a 21st century problem just makes it worse.
Germany like many developed nations need to stop looking to skilled migration from developing nations to plug holes in a dam wall. They need to invest in their own people, rediscover their own identity, stand up to bullies who continually shout Nazi every time they want something. The West needs to welcome the growth and stability of developing nations by reducing the brain drain caused by skill migration to the West. But also, undertake serious actions that reduce people flooding into the West seeking some kind of “El Dorado” that just does not exist.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
2 months ago

The words migration and Immigration are not the same!

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
2 months ago

True, but migration does include immigration (as well as emigration).

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
2 months ago

What’s your take on the words: immigrant vs expat? Is it different if the people in question are (a) white? and/or (b) British?

Rocky Martiano
Rocky Martiano
2 months ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

As an expat myself I can tell you exactly what the difference is. Expatriates choose to live in another country, going through the appropriate legal channels to obtain visas, residency etc, and have the means to support themselves in their chosen destination, either by working, by retirement pensions or other sources of income.
So expats are a small subset of migrants who generally have a positive impact on the economy of the host country by creation of additional value. And no, it makes no difference if they’re white, black or purple.

Kat L
Kat L
2 months ago

Encouraging cultural influences on the natives to have children at replacement rates would be the most difficult yet advantageous solution.

M. M.
M. M.
2 months ago

Last edited 2 months ago by Matthew M.
M. M.
M. M.
2 months ago

Ralph Schoellhammer wrote, “Many still remember how politicians and economists alike promised then that a million refugees would kick-start a second Renaissance for the economy. This Renaissance never materialised, not least due to the fact that the number of skilled workers in these migration waves was small, while almost 17% of newcomers can neither read nor write, making integration, both economically and culturally, ever trickier. As a consequence, over 300,000 people are currently stranded in Germany, their asylum claims denied, with no access to the labour market. Yet the government in Berlin has neither the will nor the means to return them to their home countries.”

In 2015, Angela Merkel allowed more than one million anti-Western immigrants (including the refugees) to flood into Germany. It is now at grave risk of becoming a non-Western country.

The United States will reach the status of non-Western country before Germany. Under intense political pressure from the Hispanic electorate and business owners (or managers), Washington has allowed the border to remain open for decades. We can now see the consequence.

By 2040, the United States will cease being a Western nation, due to open borders. By 2040, most Americans will reject Western culture, and Hispanic culture will dominate. In California, 40% of the residents are currently Hispanic. Most residents of the state already reject Western culture, and Hispanic culture dominates.

The German fate will become the American fate unless the German military forces the departure (out of Germany) of the immigrants whose asylum claims have been rejected by the German judicial system.

Get more info about this issue.

Last edited 2 months ago by Matthew M.