Over the past year, I've come to notice a fair amount of frustration among smaller towns, communities and individual states....on the topic of immigrants. The general handling of immigrants have been 'dumped' downward....with minimal leadership, direction or funding. All of this was possible and acceptable until the last three or four years....with an escalation of immigrants coming and being given permission to stay (by the federal authorities, not the state authorities).
A couple of months ago....the government of the CDU/SPD parties decided to hand out roughly half-a-billion Euro for individual states for a two-year period (which in essence means 250 million Euro a year between the sixteen states). There's another half-billion which is loan money (no cost to the states but they'd have to pay the money back within a certain period of time). No one has said anything positive about the half-billion Euro in loan money, and I have doubts that anyone will take up the idea unless they get desperate.
The problems since the Euro offering? Well....communities are saying that the states got the beginning parts of the money, BUT have yet to hand it down to individual communities.
The call for a conference between the communities, the states (all sixteen), and the federal authorities out of Berlin? Well.....yeah. The players seem to agree that a conference will occur....probably by late August. No one says much over the topics and I doubt that the conference lasts more than two days max.
The pain here is that each immigration center that you open, and the various benefits that the federal authorities in Germany say must be offered to each immigrant.....doesn't come from any federal bucket. Each immigration center.....each language or integration class....each welcome deal with hundreds of Euro per month for food and clothing? It has to come out of community funding. The communities and states kinda assumed some risk here....hoping that they'd get this funding back sooner or later.
The current accusation? Well....some communities are saying that the states who got money handed to them so far.....are merely talking of more integration/language classes....not covering shelter, food or hand-outs.
When you sit down and look at the vouchers that cities give for the integration/language classes....for a family of four....it gets up around 10,000 Euro for the various classes necessary. Just for a simplistic ten week German language class, you could be talking about 700-odd Euro. That would get you to end of stage one where you had a fair usage of German....but you'd probably have to take a secondary course along the way, and maybe even a third class. The government or integration classes....their cost would add up as well.
I'm just an American observing this whole thing. In the US.....most immigrants just arrive....assimilate.....and pick up the English language 'accidentally'. Forty years ago....urban areas would have offered classes and that was the primary method of instructing people on civics and English. That might be still happening to some degree, but the bulk just skip that step unless you are a kid in the American school system.
All of this integration stuff....no matter how you dictate it or assemble the process.....has some price-tag attached. The federal authorities have simply looking the other way and pretending it's not their mess and they won't be blamed for screw-ups. The village, town, city and state folks have finally figured this out, and they want the blame for the current policy shifted around.
What happens at this brief conference in late summer? If the small town enthusiasts show up with minimal homework and almost no statistical data.....it'll all just simmer over and drop like a rock. The media might spend one brief day covering the conference and just move on. But if a couple of these guys do their homework and blast away at both the SPD and CDU, and engage Merkel at a harsh level for incompetence on immigration.....maybe the program will change.