Although the reforms on immigration andintegration caused much controversy in Germany in the 21st century,credit must be given to the German government for enacting policy initiativesin a manner that prevented prolonged political stalemate. This package of reformssucceeded in changing how the discussions about integration was to beconducted, with the focus being directed towards the positive effects to beexpected and the societal benefits of migrants. Following from the reformsenacted in 2005, subsequent reforms have been implemented over the years,including the ‘Law on the Transposition of European Union (EU) Directives,August 2007’- where among other provisions, a temporary residence permit forvictims of human trafficking is introduced, ‘Labour Law, October 2007’ – whererestrictions for work in certain jobs in Germany are relaxed for citizens ofthe Eastern European nations that joined the EU in 2004, ‘CitizenshipRegulation, July 2008’ – federally regulated and uniform citizenship tests areimplemented based on legislative reforms in 2007 (Süssmuth, 2009). In2001, the advocates for a reform bill saw a breakthrough, with the launch of a billthat was to help modify the visa system, provide support for the initiation ofintegration courses and also provide highly qualified third-country nationals employmentopportunities in Germany, among other provisions.
The attempt at thislegislative reform was however thwarted as a national debate on Germanidentity, past immigration fiascos and misgivings about the scale of futureimmigration ensued. Following from the wrangling on the scope of the changes beingadvocated, the ‘Bundesrat’ in 2002, rejectedthe reform package. This pushed the government to then start the legislativeprocess afresh. The generally-held consensus by fall of 2004 was that the integrationof the foreign-born population ranked higher on the public’s priority list, relativeto any labour migration policies being reformed. The deep-rooted misgivingsGermans had against labour migration could be partly attributed to the country’sbrief history with large-scale immigration. As much as Germans recognized thatimmigration did not shape their history much like it did in the case of Canadaand the United States of America, they knew they had arrived at a pivotal pointwhere there is a general acknowledgement of the ethnic, cultural and linguisticdiversity present in Germany. The resultant reforms drawn up by the government in2005 impacted the “Residence Law, Right of Asylum, Employment Ordinance andIntegration Course Ordinance” as cited by (Süssmuth, 2009).
To expand on theimpact of the reforms; new migrants are mandated to take part in government-fundedintegration courses (language skills acquisition, together with familiarizing withthe social and judicial system of the country); also they created and categorizedvisas under just ‘temporary and permanent’ while the issuance of both residence and work permitsfell under the jurisdiction of only one government office; Regulations forhigh-skilled immigrants are implemented as well as granting international students theopportunity to have their student visas extended for up to a year uponcompletion of their studies so they can find employment; furthermore, peoplecan seek asylum in Germany on the grounds of facing persecution by nonstateactors or based on their gender.Beforethe year 2000, work involving the creation and implementation of measures thatpromote integration of immigrants were the responsibility of employers, localgovernments and civil-society organizations. This was because the politicalwill to tackle immigration integration was lacking. Although the governmentavailed funds for integration programs, no coherent national policies were inplace to secure a legal structure to match the immigration needs of Germany(Süssmuth, 2009).