Editorial | Immigrants need not try

Cutting funding for integration programmes sends a bad signal to foreigners interested in contributing to their new society

In case you weren’t counting, there are seven articles in this week's edition of The Copenhagen Post dealing with immigration. Five of them are negative. Add to that the case of “misunderstood” MP Marie Krarup and we could be accused of making an active effort to dig up stories that cast the nation’s attitude towards foreigners in a bad light. 


Sadly, that isn’t the case. As is the case in the majority of the articles in this newspaper, six of the eight articles are skimmed from the surface of the mainstream media. No digging was required whatsoever. 


As a newspaper produced by immigrants and read primarily by other immigrants, we recognise that we walk a fine line. If we ignore the issues of interest to our readers (including immigration), we run the risk being deemed irrelevant. If we focus on them too closely, we’re written off by society at large as nothing but a flock of disgruntled foreigners. 


In most cases nothing could be further from the truth. Immigrants do indeed complain, but show us someone who doesn’t. When it comes right down to it, though, new arrivals in this country generally come prepared to make an effort to contribute to society by becoming a part of the community. 


Integration, as this process is known, has long been pointed to as what good immigrants do. For foreigners who make the effort to integrate, the doors of the kingdom – and with it full access to the entire palette of social welfare benefits – are opened to them.


In order to facilitate the willing scores of programmes, many with healthy budgets, have been established over the past decade. The positive message of such programmes was that even as immigration regulations increasingly sought to keep people out, the state was willing to extend a hand to those foreigners who were interested in contributing. 


Unfortunately, with the withdrawal of funding last week from two successful integration programmes, the commitment by lawmakers to uphold their end of that bargain has been brought into doubt. 


Lawmakers are right that in an economy facing continued recession, there is only so much money to go around. The question, though, is what the cost of not investing in integration will be. Anti-immigration legislators would like to see foreigners stop coming here. They may just cause that to happen, or at least the motivated, educated individuals unlikely to need such programmes in the first place.


What they risk finding themselves left with is a group of people who’ve learned that even though they make the effort to integrate, there’s no counting on the state to live up to its part of the bargain. And that is something that is more damaging to the country’s reputation than any article we could ever write.