Advantages and disadvatages of allowing refugees to immigrate into countries

AP photo of boat with immigrants

As millions of refugees keep trying to enter Europe and the fear or terrorism rises in the face of actual terror attacks carried out by refugees in France and Germany, one question demands everyone’s attention, whether or not a country should allow refugees to enter.

It is hard to give a short answer to this question because immigration comes with a variety of advantages and disadvantages at the same time. Also, once an answer has been given it will be necessary to think about clear regulatory laws defining exactly what kind of immigration, if any, is allowed and whether there is a maximum number of immigrants that can enter.

People fleeing from their home countries usually have good reasons to leave. They are forced to go by war, violence, political or religious persecution or extreme poverty. Not accepting those people means not giving them shelter and denying them the help they need most. For many, the decision of whether they can enter their destination country is a decision between life and death. As citizens of the same world, it is everyone’s responsibility to offer support to refugees and try to make their countries of origin safe again.

Advantages which come with immigration from different countries is a thriving cultural exchange between the host country and other countries around the world. I believe that this exchange can be valuable for everyone involved in it. By meeting people belonging to another culture, holding different beliefs and values and following different rules, an individual can look at its world from another, broader perspective and reflect on its way of life in a completely different way.

I think that it is essential for everyone to realize that their way of living is not the only one, and most importantly, not the only right one. Allowing contact with other cultures is an effective way to prevent ethnocentrism.

On the other hand, it gets difficult if one culture’s idea of what is right differs too strongly from another culture’s definition. Drastic differences are usually of religious origin. There are countries in Africa in which the circumcision of young women still happens regularly. If someone immigrated into a country like Germany and tried to perform circumcision there, their behavior would most likely be met with outrage. Other common problems are the question of whether it is allowed for Muslim immigrants to cover their hair and face, which is for example forbidden in France, and the problem of religious education in schools.

During the last weeks and months, terror attacks performed in France, Belgium and Germany have been all over the news and reporters started to talk about a string of terror. Many attacks have been carried out by supporters of ISIS, but others have been linked to immigrants from Afghanistan resulting in a growing fear of those immigrants who already entered the country. Is the challenge of multiculturalism and the successful inclusion of immigrants too difficult to master?

My answer is maybe. As of now, multiculturalism and the results of immigration seem to create more harm than help, but I believe that this can be changed with responsible immigration policies and support by all countries of the world. It is important to ensure that no single country is being flooded with immigrants while other countries reject to help. What we need is the agreement of each country to accept as many immigrants as it can depending on the actual size of the country and its population density.

Moreover, clear regulations to determine the extent to which elements of a foreign culture can be integrated in the host culture are needed. The idea of having immigrants of one culture live in their own specific places with their own churches and schools seems problematic, but after thinking about it for a while I believe that it could turn out to be a good solution.

This doesn’t mean that immigrants have to be segregated from the rest of the population, but rather that they are given the possibility to live in a place similar to their home if they wanted to. Muslim immigrants who want their children to visit an only Muslim school could then send them to a school like this and be sure that they get the education they want them to get. However, if the parents prefer their kids to grow up learning the values of the host culture, they can send them to schools open to everyone. Consequently, multiculturalism keeps existing while at the same time intercultural conflicts are minimized.