Tuesday, September 22, 2009

What makes an immigrant?

Let me start by apologizing about the lack of photos lately. I have lost my camera cord, in my house of all places. I am working on it. 

That said I found a side topic I wanted to talk about.

What exactly is an immigrant and what is your role within another country?

I was talking to my husband the other day about the recent terrorist threats made against Germany (another upcoming blog). I had made the comment what are we doing in Afgahnistan(sic)  anyway, with we as a reference to Germany. I was quiet surprised when he replied, "there is no we". He holds the belief that unless one is a citizen of the other country, they are not fully a part of it. 

Today while reading a news article regarding racist mailing sent out by the NPD I came across this quote “They still don’t understand that this country is our country too,”. Now that is not to say I feel my husband holds that belief. Nor am I saying he is wrong in his feelings. But I do want to address the issue of cultural identification.

First and foremost while I am not a citizen of Germany I hold very much the same rights and obligation, less a few features most prominently voting rights. I do however have the right to work, the right to social benefits, and at the same time the obligation to pay into the social system, to abide by local laws and regulations. 

So what makes an immigrant? We have many kinds. Those who come into another society only to reject social integration and further isolate themselves. And those who grab integration stead fast by the horns. Integration does not mean becoming absorbed by the country you have moved to, it means playing an active role within society, accepting the cultural norms and differences, and taking steps such as learning the language. 

I cannot for the life of me understand the people who immigrate and then try to argue against the status quo and legal system. You cannot come to Germany, commit a crime, and then say oops in my home country it is ok. I am sorry to say then go home. I do not understand people who come to the country to only reap the benefits of the social system without ever feeling the need or desire to contribute themselves. Go home. 

Now before people flip a shit and call me biased. I have never once said anything about certain groups of people, rather behaviors. And I feel the same way about Germans who do things such as abuse social welfare. And please try not to forget I too am an alien. But I am one who wants to integrate in society. I want to contribute. I am proud to be a part of a country where my health care is free, where I will always have a home, and a loss of employment is not a possible end of the road. But at the same time I will work damn hard to protect that. I will contribute to the best of my ability and always remember to never take those things for granted. 

People immigrate for a variety of reasons, but they should never be anything short of grateful. It is people who refuse to integrate who create a negative image for all aliens, especially those who work damn hard in hopes of a better life.

So back to the question at hand. I think anyone who has immigrated is an integral part of any country, regardless of weather they hold residency or citizenship. But at the same time I think that comes with responsibilities. By not becoming involved and playing active roles within out new countries we are perpetuating the negative stereotypes. And until we make changes within ourselves and our behaviors we cannot expect every country to open their arms widely and embrace us. 

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