Immigrants, Urbanization and Social Integration
Muhammad Imaduddin Nasution
KhamakarPress Indonesian Contributor
Every country in the World has the same problems of immigration in the globalization era. Immigrants came to every country in the “flat” World for decades after the World War II. Informatics and communicational revolutions make everyone has the dream on living in another country. Asians and Africans move to Europe, the Americas (especially the US and Canada), Australia and New Zealand. In the 21st century, people came to the ASEAN and Arab countries for jobs. People also came to the East and South Asian countries. So the North and the South are shifting their people for a couple decades.
There is no great country or mega city without immigrants or newcomers. Why? Because development inviting newcomers. Urbanization is the impact of development and industrial revolution in the modern World. As same as urbanization transnational migration makes the World in change. So the question is what should we do for the peaceful immigration and urbanization?
When the immigrants and newcomers come to the mega cities and most developed countries, governments of the World pursuing the social integration for their countries. They pursue social integration locally, nationally and regionally. A global civil society and a peaceful developed World are the purpose of the social integration policies in the modern countries. Pluralism, multiculturalism and interculturalism are the ideological and conceptual things which are offer to the people by the governments.
Immigrants need jobs as same as the native residents. But the growth of job markets is not linear to migration growth. The impact of the growth of migration which is not linear to job markets growth is the growth of crime and illegal settlements. In the ASEAN mega cities we can see that people are living in slum settlements in urban and sub urban areas. They are working in informal sectors and illegal markets.
Social Integration and the Nature of Non-Natives
What do you think if you meet a person from your country, in another country? Of course you will be happy and excited with the meeting. All Dutch will be so glad if they meet other Dutch in Indonesia, as same as Indonesian whose meet another Indonesian in the Netherlands. Diasporas are united better than native people. It is the human nature in social and political arenas of a modern country.
Social integration, assimilation and desegregation are the solutions of the social gap between natives and immigrants. But the policies are not established without conceptual frameworks. So pluralism, multiculturalism and interculturalism are the conceptual frameworks in the matter of integration policy in a modern country.
But how can we integrate the people with multicultural backgrounds? Assimilation and desegregation are not the two and only solutions in this problem. The nature of native people is different to the nature of non-native people. Native people naturally worried about their jobs and incomes which will be seized by the immigrants and newcomers in their countries and cities. So immigration and urbanization policies are needed in this context. The government cannot side the native or non-native people, because neutrality of the government is urgent in the name of humanity. But the governments have political backgrounds so they can side ideologically.
Native people who do not have competency are not able to compete in the job markets. It is same to the non-native people which are incompetent. They cannot compete in the job markets. It is not the impact of globalization itself because it is working since the middle age. Modernization makes urbanization and international migration in the modern World. Globalization is just an impact of modernization and industrialization which make competitions in job markets.
When the government can makes new job markets, the people will not worry about the job markets. So are the assimilation and desegregation policies enough for the better multicultural society? Of course they are not enough. We need more job markets and better education to make the people competent in their fields. Social welfare and alignments of the government are very needed in the making of multicultural civil society.
But the alignments of government should be unbiased for the peaceful and solid community. Natives have to be competent in their fields as same as non-natives in a modern country. The modern countries also need democracy and minority political participation to make the government work progressively.
Although the natives worry about their jobs, the non-natives also worry about discrimination and segregation policies. Xenophobia, Islamophobia and racism threat the immigrants especially the Muslim immigrants in Europe and the Americas. Immigrant minorities or non-native minorities are scared on displacement of their community. But the natives also scared about the growth of minority when it will be grow and becoming represented in the government.
Immigrants and Democratic Minority Representation
It is nature that a non-native group is underrepresented in politics. But a minority group which is come from native group can be represented well than non-native minority. Unfortunately, a democratic minority representation is never founded as a single theory. There are many theories on democratic minority representation. Iran and Lebanon have a theory of group representation which is democratic for themselves but it is not democratic for other countries. Also the United States and the Philippines have their own theories on democratic minority representation.
In many democracies, minority representation elected in a competitive general election without any quota for their representation. Indonesia has representative quota for women but no quota for Melanesian, Chinese and non-Muslim minorities. The quota systems are never applied in the United States and Australia, as same as the United Kingdom and New Zealand. There is no single quota system on Earth so there are many systems in representative quota in democracy. Iran gives seats for minority groups in its parliament as same as Lebanon which gives seats for any ethnic and religious groups in its governmental structure.
In theory minority groups have right to be represented but in practice, non-native minority groups are underrepresented in many democratic countries. So how about immigrants as part of minority groups? Immigrant minorities are well represented in some countries such as the Netherlands, France and the United Kingdom. But they have to compete with many politicians in a democratic, free and competitive general election.
To be born in America is very important for a US citizen to be a political leader. But it is not a strict point in many European countries. To be born in Indonesia from Indonesian parents (both father and mother), is a strict point for Indonesians to lead this country. So an immigrant or a foreign born non-native person cannot be a president or a head of region in Indonesia and the United States.
So what is the democratic minority representation and how can it be realized? We should respect any local wisdom to make a good theory or a perfect act in the matter of immigrants and non-native representation. An immigrant or a non-native person who is underrepresented should get his or her rights as a human and new citizen including his or her civil and political rights. But every country have an own constitution and values on nativity and democracy.