Policy Paper

Current Immigration and Integration Debates in Germany and the United States: What We Can Learn from Each Other

Image by Frank M. Rafik, Flickr

July 30, 2013
Spencer P. Boyer and Victoria Pardini
Over the past few years there has been an evolving discourse over the intersection of immigration, integration, and culture in both Europe and the United States. From German Chancellor Angela Merkel proclaiming the death of multiculturalism in Germany to former French President Nicolas Sarkozy declaring that American and British efforts to encourage diversity have only resulted in diluted national identities and strengthened extremist voices in immigrant communities, the debate within Europe about its demographic future has only become more pronounced. In addition, from the Nordics to Greece, anti-immigration parties and voices have gained strength among populations concerned about the effects of increased diversity. Across the Atlantic, the ongoing immigration reform debate coupled with discussions about how the increase in the U.S. minority population has changed the electoral map have made topics of multiculturalism and inclusion even more polarized.

Similarities and differences between the United States and Germany in the immigration and integration realms are particularly instructive as both countries grapple with extremely diverse populations; heated policy debates about pathways to citizenship; establishing legal frameworks that acknowledge the need for more global talent; and creating more welcoming environments for newcomers. How these debates develop over the next year will impact how successful the United States and Germany will be in managing diversity and positioning themselves for 21st century success as increasingly multicultural societies. While there are notable differences in our immigration histories, legal structures, and social inclusion challenges, there are numerous things the United States and Germany can learn from each other’s political and policy approaches. Similarly, the U.S. and the EU could learn a great deal from each other in their approaches to immigration more broadly.

Click here to read the report (12pp, PDF, 960KB)

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