In the crest of a global crisis concerning immigration due to massive human migration during the last years, democratic countries question themselves about their national identities. Prospective citizenship-applicant immigrants may not be welcomed in a multicultural country that confronted with sudden large waves of immigrants fears for an alteration in its identity.
About what makes a country self-image, in an interview with the Director of Communications of mpi (Migration Policy Institute) Mss Michelle Mittelstadt, brought the case of the increasing tensions that are happening in France with its increasing 10% of Muslim population. She explains that when tensions of this type occurs in a country is usually because the changes immigration brings along happened in a relatively short period of time and they haven’t had enough time to be absorbed into the society in a more homogeneous way. “Interactions between native born and immigrant is more a question of good wll and policy makers in terms of mutual understanding” she says.
Mpi, a non-profit organization based in Washington D.C., works on global immigration issues and on ways of integration, countries immigrant history and its actual components, and the many challenges countries national identity faces displaying global awareness and perspective of human movements. Welcoming the immigrant, the institute seeks to enrich and expand multicultural national identities and citizenship. The web site is sober and simple, yet specific, objective and organized, in contrast with others that I found where I was dazed by an array of irritating pictures, haughty logos and/or assaulting advertisements of all sorts that after intoxicating me while navigating through driving endless sub-pages, contribute to lose one’s initial purpose. There are plenty of articles and news, references, networks and highlighted headers to lead the visitor through its research without making it feel that he/she is strolling by itself through a greedy jungle
But what does it mean to be Briton? What does identify a French as a French and not other? These are daily interrogatives in the European news.
In this article of the BBC Britain ‘a racist Society’ questions to Britons about the high levels of “multi-racial society” existent in the actual UK and they directly point to governmental immigration wages as a cause of this obvious result as for its recruiting from the colonies over the years has damaged its national identity. (UK has systematically recruited men from its West and East Indies colonies to serve them as soldiers during the wars, and after 1945 has struggled with their integration to society, it states a sub-page of the source). “Almost two-thirds of whites believe immigrants do not integrate or make a positive contribution to Britain” says the source.
What I found interesting in this article though, are not the facts of consequences of past political decisions, but a positive light suggested in pro-integration. There is a “widespread support for plans to introduce citizenship and English clsses for people applyng to live in the UK”, adds the source. The notion of the citizenship lessons is to make the immigrant familiar with the Briton way of life and knowing more about history of immigration in Britain and its positive impact to the nation as well.
But according with Michelle Mittelstad, this is not a novelty for U.S. that had these progrms since the memory remembers. Mss Mittelstadt notes that the British system was taken from the American where the for-to-be citizen had ceremonies of swearing loyalty to the adopted country after taking tests and oaths etc, and that this is viewed in the book on citizen policy issued by mpi last year. She explains that this process is another way of integration function that the governmnt uses in favor to the immigrant. She also adds that this process was actualized by the U.S. government in the last years; the memorized exams of questions and answers was re-done for a more interactive tst where the applicant can attain a more close notion of the real character in history of the country where there is an understanding of some of the funding principals of the United States. Germany, she compares, has actualized consistently its citizenship policy since the 2000. The most significative change is the implementation of 600 hours of German language courses for new comers where much of the fee are paid by the government.
Is not this an attempt to homogenizer a new national identity? Integrating the immigrant and making it feel part of the new society is as important to the citizen itself as to the society. Work on integration is a great idea regarding massive migration.
National self-images had changed over the years if we think about the inclusion of the black community into the US identity and the image of the women as well, both contributed to the shape of the national self-image of the what being a US citizen means today. About celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in its work on Multicultural Questions Jeff-Spinner Halev says “This version of multiculturalism isn’t about celebrating about different cultures. It’s about changing the current conception of citizenship to include the formerly excluded. It’s about celebrating and affirming the diversity of American society” (68)
What makes a national identity it seems never was a relevant problem for the Unites States since its foundation. Mss Mittelstadt shows a very positive view of the actual times at observing that the U.S. was a good example considering the way it has integrated different cultures and immigrants around the world for such a long period of time, and adds that this is due to the American outcome and spirit and not due to an immigrant integration plan. A large experience in receiving immigrant waves of Chinese, Italians, Irish, Jews and German communities from the 18, 19 hundreds and early 20th century is comparatively important. She argues that the Hispanic wave that is occurring to the States during the last 20 years is not of a different character than those of early centuries. “America has assimilated, has integrated immigrants from vastly different cultures, of a vastly different places and time and each of these points in history there been concerns that these immigrants were not assimilating, that they were sort of existing in their own you know, smaller cultures, that they were only interacting with people of you know, coming from similar places, speaking similar languages (…) over time they’ve become fully in grain in sort of a fabric of American life” she specified. And she concludes that concerning national identity countries evolve from different backgrounds and values to different ways in different paces.
Nevertheless, there is a high tolerance of mixed-race relationships in favor to “finding a loving partner” compared to the last 10 years in Britain. The survey observes that there were 53% who said they had friends from different racial backgrounds.
In this Video Nation Amber Gilbert (from London) “I’m from everywhere and I like everywhere” that I’m posting, is an example of how multiculturalism in society challenges countries to work on their migratory reform prioritizing the protection of family relationships rather than in attempting to protect their national identities.
The raising of Amber is a great example of multiculturalism. Cross-cultural accidents or casualties had made the person she is, who feels free of unconscious sociopolitical boundaries to demark her own identity. She has named at least half-dozen of places to explain who she is, but rather likes to say ‘I’m from everywhere’. In other words she is saying ‘I’m part of all this places in different senses, call me as you prefer that would be indistinct to me’. Her identity or who she feels she is, is not founded on any vain external factor such as passports, granted citizenships, ethnical features or cultural behaviors.
In her, Love took a chance through immigration and integration.
And it won.