Riots broke out in major German cities on New Year’s Eve, in which firefighters and police officers were injured.
Since the New Year’s Eve riots, Germany has been debating integration – after all, the majority of the violent chaotic people were male and with a migration background. For the German migration researcher Cihan Sinanoglu it is clear that the failed integration is a social problem, not a cultural one. In Germany, for example, not everyone has equal access to education, work and health.
An attitude that the Swiss migration expert Eduard Gnesa shares for the most part. According to the former director of the Federal Office for Foreigners’ Questions and Swiss special envoy for international migration cooperation, Germany under Chancellor Angela Merkel (68) made mistakes in the wake of the refugee crisis in 2015 and 2016.
Germany made mistakes
The admission itself was not wrong, because “it was mainly people from Syria who were in need”. After that, however, not everything went optimally with the integration. “Among the refugees, for example, there were also numerous unaccompanied minors. In order for these to have prospects, the acquisition of the national language and the start of a career must be promoted.» From the point of view of the migration expert, Germany has done too little here.
With us, however, the situation is different. «In Switzerland we have a good education system. In particular, dual vocational training also offers young migrants good opportunities to enter the labor market,” says the former director of the Federal Office for Foreigners’ Questions, a forerunner of today’s State Secretariat for Migration (SEM).
Good experiences have been made, for example, with the integration pre-apprenticeship for refugees – in these refugees and temporarily admitted persons are prepared for an apprenticeship in a targeted and practice-oriented manner. Ukrainian refugees and other immigrant groups can also complete such a pre-apprenticeship.
The federal government also provides the cantons with money for language courses and other integration measures: the cantons receive an integration allowance of CHF 18,000 for each recognized refugee and temporarily admitted person – these are asylum seekers whose application has been rejected but who cannot be expelled.
There are also language courses in Germany, but until a few years ago certain groups of migrants, such as temporarily admitted people, were excluded from them. They hardly had any chances on the labor market.
Expert Gnesa is convinced that promoting integration pays off. But there are other points that help ensure that Switzerland is on the right track. According to Gnesa, this also has something to do with the situation in Switzerland: “We don’t have any huge cities with neighborhoods that have such a high proportion of foreigners as Berlin.”
But in Switzerland, care was always taken to prevent “ghettoization”. Gnesa explains: “Again and again people ask why asylum seekers from French-speaking countries of origin are not assigned to Romandy, where integration is easier because of the language.”
However, if all French speakers were accommodated in western Switzerland, this could lead to parallel societies. “To prevent this, they are also housed in German-speaking Switzerland or in Ticino, where they have to learn the local language and integrate into society.”
Strict Switzerland that creates incentives
In addition, Switzerland is stricter than other countries: “People with rejected asylum applications are consistently deported in Switzerland. In the German federal states, on the other hand, this has been the case to a much lesser extent,” says Gnesa. In addition, there are the accelerated Swiss asylum procedures, which were introduced under the recently resigned Federal Councilor Simonetta Sommaruga (62).
But even before that, the SEM, at that time still under the direction of State Secretary Mario Gattiker (66), used the so-called 48-hour or fast-track procedure for asylum seekers from countries with a low protection rate. So if you come from a country where practically nobody gets asylum because the people there are not threatened by persecution, your application has already been given priority.
From Gnesa’s point of view, this different practice is one of the reasons why Germany and Great Britain are more popular destinations for migrants than Switzerland. Today, numerous asylum seekers who have passed through Italy or Austria on their journey only want to pass through Switzerland on their way to Northern or Western Europe.
Eight migration partnerships
Eduard Gnesa, the former special envoy for migration, does not forget to mention how important the migration partnerships are, which he played a key role in negotiating. They enable the reintegration of rejected asylum seekers in their original homeland and the training of young people. They support development projects in the partner countries and the fight against human trafficking. “Part of the partnerships are also repatriation agreements, with which rejected asylum seekers can be returned voluntarily, but if necessary also against their will,” emphasizes Gnesa. Because if a rejected asylum seeker knows that he could possibly be forcibly returned to his country of origin, he is more willing to declare his willingness to return and to be able to benefit from initial help in his home country.
Switzerland has now concluded such partnerships with eight countries, including Balkan countries such as Kosovo and Serbia, but also Sri Lanka, Tunisia and Nigeria.