• Germany's news in English

Von der Leyen blasts hard line on immigrants

The Local · 8 Sep 2010, 17:18

Published: 08 Sep 2010 17:18 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Von der Leyen, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU), told Wednesday’s Hamburger Abendblatt that children would the first to suffer if benefits such as “Hartz IV” unemployment payments were cut.

“I don’t think much of coupling child-rearing with cuts to livelihood. The first ones who will have to carry the burden are the children,” she said.

In the wake of Bundesbank board member Thilo Sarrazin’s explosive remarks this month on immigration and its implications for Germany’s future, a heated integration debate has begun. Politicians from both the CDU and the centre-left Social Democrats, have suggested punitive measures such as welfare cuts as a way of forcing immigrant communities to better integrate with mainstream Germany.

But von der Leyen said that if there were signs of child neglect, the youth authorities at the Jugendamt had to intervene, “independent of a migration background or not.”

The deputy chairman of the CDU’s parliamentary group, Michael Fuchs has called for sanctions on immigrants who refuse to integrate, including cutting their Hartz IV unemployment benefits.

Von der Leyen, by contrast, demanded that early childhood education become the focal point of integration policy. “Knowledge of the German language and friendship with German children in the third or fourth years of life are the basis for successful integration,” she said.

The key questions was whether all children had the chance for a good early education. She blasted the fact “that the important integration debate has focussed so much on ethnic background.”

Regarding Sarrazin’s controversial theories, von der Leyen said: “I don’t like the generalisations in such statements,” and stressed that people with immigrant backgrounds could be “very successful.”

Meanwhile Klaus Zimmerman, head of the German Institute for Economic Research, said Germany needed at least 500,000 immigrants per year to maintain its economic strength.

With an ageing population, Germany needed skilled workers from abroad to replace the stack or workers set to retire in coming years, he told the Hamburger Abendblatt.

“From 2015, we will lose about 250,000 workers each year. By then, we will already be short three million workers in the job market – especially skilled jobs,” he said.

Meanwhile, the German government pledged Wednesday to do more to improve the integration of immigrants already in the country, particularly on teaching the language.

"Around 1.1 million adults in this country do not speak German well enough," Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere told reporters as he presented a new national integration programme.

"Language, language and more language" is the focus, the minister said. "Speaking German is the starting point for everything."

Story continues below…

He said that the first wave of immigrants into Germany, so-called guest workers in the 1960s and the 1970s, and the most recently arrived were reasonably well integrated into German society.

"But for the generations between the two, for nearly 20 years, nothing, or little, in any case not enough, was done," he said.

The government stressed that the timing of the publication of its national integration programme had been planned for some time and had nothing to do with the polemic on immigration sparked by Sarrazin, who claims Europe's top economy is being undermined and overwhelmed by immigrants and that allowing in millions of "guest workers" was a "gigantic error."

DAPD/The Local/AFP/dw

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

09:56 September 8, 2010 by catjones
Don't worry, the Chinese and Indian non-immigrants will be doing the future work of germany. Ten years from now, germans will be tour guides showing the curious their monuments of the past.. "This is where we used to manufacture BMWs before we moved production overseas".
11:09 September 8, 2010 by lovelybug
@catjones: I am not sure how much you are aware of the current technology situation in the world. You seems to be too optimistic. What I am seeing in the Telecom sector is horrible. Nokia has moved their manufacturing plants out of Germany already and shifted to Eastern europe. Siemens already sold its mobile section to BenQ that went bankrupt and then every thing got closed. Siemens network merged with Nokia and may be in few years Nokia buys it. Infineon sold itw wireless section to US firm , i think Intel. So German companies are already shrinking in this sector and chinese are taking a lot of business in the whole world. May be they will also start manufacturing cars and then we will not be even able to say the statement that you wrote above. :(
11:49 September 8, 2010 by DinhoPilot
^^ By then the Turks, afros and others moved back to their countries, where they will be offered "wunderbar" well paid jobs thanks to the formation they received in Europe and to the new factories that relocated there.

With Indian and Chinese bosses taking higher positions it will be easier for oriental auslanders to get job here. Then we will see a great increase in China Towns and New Dehlis, followed by the decrease in donner consumption. The wurst factories will be moved to China, and the term "hot dog" will have a literal meaning. ^^

Germans will be happy cause they won't need to work hard and the goverment will support them with comfortable benefits. Nazis will turn communist and demand an increase of Tata nanos or Ssyung Young to stimulate the economy.

Now seriously, these dudes have to work their country policies better, their development and sustainability its at risky. Europe in general has to change its policies and start exporting more technology... Africa is a wide and undeveloped continent. Europe should "force" (not by vilolent means!) a change in the current goverments in there, and estabilish partnerships in development without compromising (Not import every refugee, but work in development of the african countries). That's what the chinese are doing already. They get tons of oil and natural resources, in turn they "contribute" by building roads, structures, stadiums, etc... everything a-la-chinese (bad quality).

And they still manage to sell their products; ephones, kat building machines, zing zong tvs, etc...

For them is a win, win situation, since they are not receiving tons of immigrants trying to get benefit, etc..
20:27 September 8, 2010 by Johnne
Ignorant people that are not even aware how racist they are. I can say surely that the ignorant and anti germany´s progress individuals. They are happy to use the normal demonisation tactics against coloured people. The funny think is, they themselves are not native Germans. many of them are immigrants, or of immigrant descents. Migrants from other "white" countries just want the turks,blacks/africans,asians, and latinos to leave this country so that they can sit down with their arrogant,lazy,racist and opressive psyches & enjoy the welfare state this country has to offer. Some of them are so insecured that they´re even scared coloured migrants will snatch their wived,sisters,duaghters and girlfriends...lol" STOP RACISM!! BELIEVE IN YOURSELVES!! no one is bothering you! STOP WORRYING ABOUT US!! WE WON´T BITE/HURT YOU!! WE´RE FINE! OK?? Your fore-fathers came to our continets centuries ago for SLAVERY AND COLONIZATION. Now we´re here to develop ourselves and settle down because they stole our human & natural resources. We´re to stay so...get used to it!! we ain´t going nowhere brothers and siters:-)
21:20 September 8, 2010 by twizzer
.... sometimes i don't know whether to laugh or cry about this whole immigration/integration issue. Really ,the topic is not new at all, its being there and only that this time it was loudly said for all to hear by the most daring and courageous man called Sarrazin.
09:25 September 9, 2010 by freechoice
parents really love to send their kids to kindergartens, everywhere you asked, they are all full, what is Herr Fuchs talking about?
09:38 September 9, 2010 by Kayak
@ twizzer

I ask you to reconsider your comment that there is "nothing new" in this debate about immigration.

My summary goes like this; there is a view of immigration that we all learnt ("learned" US) at school that goes under the title of Colonialism. Vacant lands (apologies in advance to indigenous people while I refer to my schooling in the 1960/70s) where filled-up initially by immigrants from Europe and then later by non-Europeans. (Think Australia and North America.)

Let us call this mode of immigration, Immigration 1.

But it is now 2009 and the world is filling up fast. In the absence of calamity Globalisation is here to stay. With certain specific exceptions, the flow of migration is no longer going in the direction that it once was.

I call this mode of immigration, Immigration 2.

The traditional European "source" countries are now becoming the destination countries along with the previously colonised coutries for a new global immigration flow.

Some European countries address this development through proactive immigration policy and some do it by default in the absence of any political will.

And so I believe that "Mother Europe" now faces new immigration challenges indeed.
09:43 September 9, 2010 by freechoice
Be very afraid!!!

There are 2 billions Indians and Chinese.

Ready to dilute your white boy DNA

How many do you want? LOL!
15:25 September 9, 2010 by MichaelMolenaar
End immigration now!

Free market reform is needed so that European students don't feel the need to stay in school for half of their life before they can get hired. Once they get a job, they are more likely to raise a family.

3rd world people make 3rd world countries!
16:13 September 9, 2010 by Kayak

"3rd world people make 3rd world countries!"

I detect in that line of thought a superior, shall I suggest even racist tone. But please explain. We'd all love know how you back up that claim.

The forum is open to you... go for it!
21:20 September 9, 2010 by Justiceiro
"3rd world people make 3rd world countries!"


This is culturist, not racist. Or by racist, do you mean "everything I don't agree with." How about, instead of calling it racist (inaccurately) why don't you demonstrate that the statement is incorrect?
06:44 September 10, 2010 by Kayak
The explanations to my views are here for all to read. You made the statement. I'm interested in knowing more about your ideas. You can choose to support your statement or not.
14:51 September 11, 2010 by Talonx
@ Justiceiro

The united states is largely composed of people once from the '3rd World', the united states is clearly not a '3rd World' nation, therefore the statement that "3rd world people make 3rd world countries" is wrong.

As for racism, considering that race does not exist in the sense that it was originally titled (sub-species, caucasion, black, etc..) all the so-called 'races' are simply ethnic groups which are thought to have relatively identifiable physical features (e.g. generally africans have black skin). That being said, racism is a particular way of thinking about such ethnic groups, as if there was some biological and unchangeable feature of the group that set it apart from other groups. The statement concerning the '3rd World' does just this.
Today's headlines
Man dies after beating for peeing near Freiburg church
The Johannes Church in Freiburg. Photo Jörgens Mi/Wikipedia

A middle-aged man from southern Germany has died after being attacked by a group of men who took umbrage with the fact he was urinating in the vicinity of a church.

The Local List
Seven German celebrities with uncanny doppelgängers
Former Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit and actor Alec Baldwin. Photo: DPA; Gage Skidmore, Wikimedia Commons

Check out these seven look-a-likes of well known German figures - we admit that some are more tenuous than others...

Israel seeks to buy three new German submarines: report
A Dolphin class submarine. Photo: DPA

Israel is seeking to buy three more advanced submarines from Germany at a combined price of €1.2 billion, an Israeli newspaper reported Friday.

Here’s where people live the longest in Germany
Photo: DPA

Germans down south seem to know the secret to a long life.

More Germans identify as LGBT than in rest of Europe
Photo: DPA

The percentage of the German population which identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is higher than anywhere else in Europe, according to a new study.

'Reichsbürger' pair attack police in Saxony-Anhalt
File photo: DPA.

A "Reichsbürger" and his wife attacked police officers on Thursday, just a day after another Reichsbürger fatally shot an officer in Bavaria.

Five things not to miss at the Frankfurt Book Fair
Photo: DPA

From consulting a book doctor to immersing yourself in an author's world with the help of virtual reality, here are five things not to miss at this week's Frankfurt Book Fair, the world's largest publishing event.

Parents who don't get nursery spot for kid entitled to pay
Photo: DPA

The Federal Court of Justice (BGH) ruled on Thursday that parents whose children don't receive placements in nursery care are entitled to compensation.

Eurowings braces as cabin crew union proclaims strike
Photo: DPA

A union representing cabin crew for Lufthansa's budget airline Eurowings announced that strikes could take place at any time over the next two weeks, starting on Monday.

Mysterious German U-boat wreckage found off Scotland
Photo: ScottishPower

First World War U-boat "attacked by sea monster” thought to be found off Scottish coast.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd