When Germany won the World Cup, some viewers were surprised to see the amount of diversity in a team that has players of African, Turkish, Arab and Polish descent. Germany’s multiculturalism however is not only limited to their soccer team. With a low unemployment rate and a strong economy, Germany has proven to be a magnet for immigrants seeking employment. This has resulted in Germany becoming the second country only after the United States in terms of attracting immigrants, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. While immigration reform has proved to a divisive issue in the United States, the German government has taken a widely different approach by passing laws and modernizing immigration policies that encourage and enable immigrants to come to Germany.
While many of the immigrants entering are coming from the economically depressed countries of Europe’s southern region, a sizable percentage are actually quite educated. This was partially a result of the new “Blue Card” system introduced in 2012, which granted entry to any non-EU college graduate primarily in the STEM field who could prove they could obtain a job with a salary in the $50,000 to $64,000 range. The report from OECD also states 34 percent of immigrants are highly educated. According to another report from the Deutsche Bank, about 29 percent of those between the age of 29 and 65 who arrived over the last decade hold graduate degrees, in contrast to the approximately 19 percent of native Germans with graduate degrees. The reports also seem to discredit the idea that immigrants take away high-skilled jobs from natives in a country. In 2007, the employment rate stood at 66 percent; 5 years later, it is up to 69 percent. If high-skilled immigrants were taking jobs away, the employment rate would have decreased; yet the opposite is occurring.
To be fair, there is there is also a pragmatic reason that explains why the German government is willing to simplify their immigration procedures: fund-free language classes and even open “welcome centers” for newly arrived immigrants. The answer lies in the troubling demographics the country faces. Germany has the oldest population in Europe and is second to Monaco in terms of low birth rates. Both variables negatively impact the economy and eventually will lead to labor shortage. Even now with the influx of immigrants, a report from Ernst & Young estimates that a shortage of qualified workers is costing small and mid-size German companies around $43 billion in annual revenues.
While Germany is taking the necessary steps to stay economically competitive in the coming years, the same cannot be said about the United States. With an arcane immigration system that essentially caps the amount of visas given each year to high-skilled applicants from countries such as India and China, a shortage was established in the STEM labor workforce. Thousands of jobs each year go unfilled because there are not enough qualified applicants to fill in these positions. This easily could be fixed with Congress increasing the slots available for high-skilled immigrants. Thousands of students come here to the U.S. for undergraduate or graduate school, and want to stay here and work, but are unable to do so because of the visa limits imposed by none other than Congress. This does not make economic sense. To put it simply, we are training these individuals and equipping them with the skills that could be used here to create much-needed jobs. Instead, they are being used to create businesses and other ventures in their home countries. As a nation, we could learn one or two things from what Germany is doing right and look past mass deportations as a solution to our immigration problems and focus on what makes economic sense.
Carlos Vera is a Staff Writer at Latino Giant. He is passionate about the intersection between policy, advocacy and community development as it pertains to Latinos in United States. He is a Senior at American University in Washington D.C., where he is focusing his studies on the politics and policy inner workings of immigration and education. Currently, he is Co-Directing a peer mentorship program for multicultural students as a NUFP Fellow at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. Previously, he has held internships at the U.S. House of Representatives, the European Parliament in Brussels, and volunteer roles in local, state and national campaigns.