The world continues to witness a rise in global migration. Growing numbers of people leave their countries of birth and venture to faraway lands to seek new opportunities. For immigrants and refugees, the process of leaving home for a new and unknown place requires courage and grit. To step on a boat, to navigate a confusing bureaucracy, to cross an uninviting border -- no matter the pathway, immigrants risk so much in trying for a new beginning. But what of the communities that will receive them? How will longer-term residents view their new neighbors, who speak a language and come from a culture or religion often so different than their own? To what extent will they welcome immigrants to their community, and to what extent will the arrival of newcomers be met with ambivalence, fear, or even hostility?
These are the questions with which countries across the globe struggle. Whether a sending country, a receiving country, or even both, nations are trying to figure out how to better manage not only migration, but the long-term integration of immigrants and refugees who come to their shores and hope to call it home. Nations are being tested in new ways and are required to reconsider how to welcome and integrate newcomers. The powerful images of children and families fleeing violence and seeking asylum in Europe have been burned into the consciousness of people worldwide. There is greater concern than ever before about the plight of refugees everywhere, and the need to create a more welcoming policy and culture so people can rebuild their lives has rarely been so clear. How can we transform one of the greatest challenges of our time into a significant opportunity - one that can make a difference in the lives of millions of immigrants, in Europe and across the globe – and to the local communities that welcome them?
This issue brief was written by Welcoming America's Susan Downs-Karkos for the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies.Go Back