Monday, February 20, 2006

Say Cheeeeese

My Ellis Island alike country -the Netherlands- will roll out the next phase of its tough integration policy next month when it introduces compulsory Dutch language and culture tests at 138 embassies, the immigration minister said today. The 30-minute computerized exam will determine if newcomers are prepared for Dutch life, said Rita Verdonk. "If you pass, you're more than welcome. It is in the interest of Dutch society and those concerned."

The program begins March 15 at Dutch embassies around the world. Verdonk is the architect of some of the government's toughest measures to stem new immigration and to expel applicants who have been rejected, putting her at the center of the national debate over the traditional image of Dutch tolerance. "What's tolerance? I think tolerance has become confused with indifference," she responded during a rare meeting with foreign reporters. "As far as image goes, I'm here to protect the public interests and I don't think our image will suffer," she said.

European Union nations largely praise the Dutch policies, Verdonk said, while Moroccans and Turks told her they are happy with the policies and want her "to keep up the good work." Immigrant families, often isolated from the employment market because they don't speak Dutch or face discrimination, account for 33 percent of the country's poor although they make up less than 20 percent of the population. Unemployment rates for nonnative youths are in some cases three time those of native youths, reports the AP.

I think we should teach immigrants to speak English. There are only 16 million out of 6 Billion people speaking Dutch. Who cares? Teach them to speak English and they have a better chance of getting employed and when we do send them back they have at least learned a language that matters. I feel ashamed of our so called tough integration policy.


Pirate said...

The pirate is back and ready to defend any cartoonists rights to draw anything they damn well want to.

Lindsay Lobe said...


So presumably these immigrants are adults. of at least 18 years and over and able to hold a conversation in Dutch about everyday subjects; and do not present a danger to your public order, public decency, public health, national security. must not have been given a prison sentence, a community service order, or fined al large sum of money at any time in the proceeding 4 year years prior to the application; and are prepared to give up any current nationality.
Is that right ?
Best wishes

Lorraine said...

Shame on all of us who create barriers, where none are warranted!
Thanks for the post, D.

Kathleen Callon said...

Many of our legislators proposed schools only teach in English. We have many Mexican immigrants, and many schools here have bilingual classes. I didn't think it was fair, but when it came to surveys of parents of Mexican children, again and again they overwhelmingly wanted English-only classes because they felt if they didn't learn English they would be at a disadvantage.

I'm not sure how I feel about mandatory Dutch. I guess it depends on why the immigrants are coming... job opportunity (should learn) -vs- political amnesty (should be admitted first and then helped to learn)?

Matt said...

Great Post, thank you. :)

Zee said...

Unfortunately I find it hard to believe that a computer test will generate interest in immigrants towards their host country if this interest is not already there to begin with.
I can only speak for myself, but were I to move to say Russia or China, I would be keen to learn at least the basics of their language and culture.
The isolation immigrants face in host countries due to a lack of "blending" or assimilation, does strike me as a problem though. Often what happens is that those ethnic or other groupings organize their own "bubble" (ghetto) without much concern to what is around them, either out of lethargy or perhaps because the host country is inadequate in providing a bridge for true integration. Whatever the reason, it is still mostly up to the initiative of the individual immigrant to cross the barriers, not the government or other institutions.

P.S. I have a bunch of more thoughts on this issue, but it would be lengthy to explain and burst the limits of this forum

Rory Shock said...

I think we should start working on the one world language concept again ... wouldn't it be an interesting transition as all the world's languages are assimilated into one great rich language ... in the U.S. we are becoming a bilingual country ... Spanish and English ... probably should teach them Spanish and Chinese as well. ... but seriously, I get you point and it is well taken

Dem Soldier said...

This will not change anything. It may even create more problems.....

lenren said...

I don't have anything really original to say. I agree w/ Kathleen. ( I seem to do that a lot :))

Id it is said...

National Language policies do at times become the most potent tool of discrimination. In the USA, regardless of when you come into the country, all high school students have to take the HSPA ( high school proficiency aptitude test)in English. As a result a major part of the hispanic immigrant populaton are high school dropouts!
That was an informative post

Progressive Traditionalist said...

I share Kathleen's concerns about political amnesty.
I used to work with some people from Bosnia. They entered the States through a special program that was set up for Bosnians (this had something to do with an official designation of genocide). While some were able to be approved for this program, others were not. Such difficulties are too much for one nation, or a small handful, to provide all the necessary assistance.
Even from the times of the Inquisition, the Dutch have always been welcoming of refugees. In our troubled times, it would be a terrible thing if that welcome would become a matter of history only.

Tina said...

My father is the son of 2 immigrants from Italy, and my grandfather's English was much better than my grandmother's English b/c Poppi was younger when his family arrived in the US than Nona-- she arrived in her 20's. B/c of her lack of English skills, my dad and his brother spoke Italian better than English when they went to kindergarten. My grandparents were terrified that would hinder them, so they insisted that English only was spoken in the house. Sadly, my father lost so much of the Italian language as a result... except of course for the curse words.

DA said...

I've been in Paris this week and my IT department screwed my laptop so I was out of Blogsville. But I'm back. Thank you all for your input.

Good to see you back Pirate

I guess all of your assumptions are true. But we even send back children Lindsay.

I agree Lorraine. Refugees should allways find refuge in our countries. That's called humanity.

There's indeed a difference Kathleen but the world is getting more and more globalized. Especially in the Netherlands we do business with many foreign companies. English is a must for me.

Thx Matt, nice to see you over here again.

Agree Zee that it is the immigrants responsibility but I believe that governments should aid in making them more valuable for the country as well. People that will stay over for only a few years don't have any use of Dutch language what so ever.

I happen to speak a few languages Rory and find it a huge advantage in my daily life Rory. Chinese would be the best thing to do for the coming decades. One language would be so great allthough I like English with Italian or Swedish accent :-)

Soldier I agree. I doubt every Dutch citizen would pass the exam.

Well that's original enough Lenren:-)

That's awefull id it is, school is the first step to take for immigrants. Over here we have a big discussion on a 16 year old girl that studies very well but will be send back to Africa because of our tough policy. A shame it is.

A matter of history is is becoming very rapidly if we do not act PT. I have to do something. Don't know what though.

Hehehe thx for sharing Tina. Your family could be one of the typical US/Italian families we always see in the movies over here :-)

Gary said...

Language is one thing - double talk about cultural assimilation, that hides racism is another. Sometimes it's just there.

It's not perfect, but in Canada we have been assimilating people in large numbers, while still respecting (indeed celebrating) the differences. Toronto is the most multi-cultural city in the world and Vancouver's not far behind. Within a generation or two, the kids are integrated and English is strong.

My good friend Geeta (East Indian heritage) is marrying Brendan (Chinese heritage). All family members on both sides are Canadian and boy, is the food going to be good at that wedding!

Ammey Kesarkar said...

Yet another barrier! This was news to me :-(
It’s like walking backward, with eyes towards the future.