De Fabel van de illegaal 71/72, summer 2005

Author: platform Stop forced integration

No against general forced integration!

United in the platform "Stop forced integration", a number of organizations and individuals are going to campaign against a system of integration based on force. De Fabel van de illegaal also participates. Here's the manifesto of the platform.

Manifesto for a reasonable integration policy
No against general forced integration!

Seen through the eyes of immigrants and their offspring, the policy of the Dutch government is becoming more and more unsettling. With minister Verdonk up front, this government keeps attacking the rights and acquirements of ethnic minorities. The general forced integration, which she wants to introduce for immigrants already living in the Netherlands for a long time, is the most radical and unreasonable. With this manifesto we, the organizations and individuals who worry about the sound and contents of this government policy, want to speak out against these plans for a system of forced integration.

The former guest workers form Morocco, Turkey and other non-western countries and their children, the so-called second generation, have a large share in building the prosperity of our society. Invited by the Netherlands, they established themselves here and worked hard for the development of this country, under very bad labor circumstances and mostly in sectors with the heaviest and most dirty jobs. For decades the government didn't care about the situation of these immigrants and didn't provide enough possibilities to learn the language and to participate. "Work, work and again work", was the message.

Now the government wants to confront these, often aged, immigrants with an obligation to integrate. That means that these immigrants will be forced by law to learn Dutch and pay for it themselves. Within 5 years they must pass an exam to prove that they can speak the language. If they do not succeed, there will be the threat of a fine. A very nasty way of saying thank you! Furthermore, according to the government plans, some groups, like for instance people on social security, would only have to pay part of their integration, but all the other obligations will remain.

Cloaked discrimination

We consider general forced integration to be discriminating, although in a cloaked fashion. Formally the new law also applies to non-immigrants who have lived less than 8 years in the Netherlands during the age they had to go to school. But except for a tiny number of children of repatriated diplomats and emigrants, almost all "autochthonous" Dutch will not be forced to integrate. But hundreds of thousands immigrants will be, although they are ordinary citizens of this country. A crafty construction, which in our opinion does not show a government that wants to treat it's citizens equally. Surely, also among "autochthonous" Dutch there are many people who cannot participate (enough) in society. Research shows that 10 percent of the adult "autochthonous" Dutch are functionally illiterate. The government tries to get these people back into school, on an voluntary basis and without any costs to the participants. The same government, however, wants to force immigrants by law to participate in integration courses which they themselves will have to pay.

We consider it disturbing that participating and successfully finishing integration courses will possibly get to be seen as a condition to be allowed to participate in society. With these plans the government works on a justification to openly discriminate. It is well possible that for instance employers will turn down immigrants looking for a job because they haven't successfully finished their integration exams (yet).

A general forced integration is in our opinion also not necessary. That's another reason why this new law should not be implemented. There have been waiting lists for Dutch language courses in the big cities for years, which shows that the demand for lessons is bigger then the supply. Why force these immigrants to integrate, when there already is such a large demand? So large that the government cannot comply.

And, certainly not unimportant, forced integration will enormously burden these immigrants financially. According to the plans, they will have to pay the high costs of the whole program (about 5.000) themselves, if need be through a loan. Although part of these costs will be paid back when the immigrant successfully finishes the exams within three years, this system will hit this vulnerable group of people hard. They mostly have very little money and many debts, and so this new law will lead to a accumulation of financial problems.

For a reasonable integration policy!

The plans for a forced integration form the largest and most influential attack on the balance between rights and duties of immigrants in 40 years. That's why we call upon everyone, immigrant and non-immigrant, to protest locally and nationally against these government plans. It is important to fight forced integration and discrimination now. Organizations of immigrants have a special responsibility. They must now show that they are real representatives, and inform their members and organize protests.

We want to stress that we are not against integration. We think integration is an important instrument to actually help immigrants participate. However, as we argued above, we are against a system of integration based on discriminatory ideas, force, sanctions and high costs for participants. We plead for a reasonable integration policy, with enough, good, free and voluntary integration courses.