Skepticism grows over immigration

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A new study suggests that half of all Norwegians want to shut Norway’s borders to new immigrants. Just as many believe integration efforts have failed. Immigrants from North America, Asia, Africa and other parts of the world only make up around 10 percent of the population in Norway, but it doesn’t appear many more are welcome.

Newspaper Aftenposten reported Thursday that the study, conducted as an “Integration Barometer” for the state agency dealing with integration issues (Integrerings- og mangfoldsdirektoratet), also revealed that fully 80 percent of Norwegians think citizenship in Norway should only be granted to those who pass a test in the Norwegian language. Proficiency in Norwegian has recently become a prerequisite for most immigrants.

Chris Parson, who moved to Norway from Canada four years ago, told Aftenposten that he had to choose between taking a 300-hour language course or trying to pass a language test on his own. He chose the test, saying that “the problem with the course is that many take part because they must, without following along.” He agrees with his Norwegian partner and others who believe integration methods need some renewal.

Record high opposition
Never before have more Norwegians indicated that they want to halt immigration, according to the study. It showed that 53.7 percent of 1,380 persons questioned by TNS Gallup responded that they did not want more immigrants in Norway. In 2005, when the integration agency conducted its first such study, the corresponding figure was 45.8 percent, reports Aftenposten.

At the same time, 48.7 percent believe integration efforts are not going well at all, up 12 percentage points since 2005. Around 60 percent put the blame on Norwegians themselves, for deficient contributions towards successful integration of newcomers into Norwegian society, while 83.5 percent blame the immigrants for failing to integrate. That failure is often tied to failure to learn the Norwegian language, even though proficiency in Norwegian can be a daunting challenge for even the most highly educated adults moving to Norway.

State statistics bureau SSB (Statistics Norway) has reported that 65,065 persons immigrated to Norway to 2010, more than twice the amount in 2005. Another 10,064 sought asylum in Norway last year, down from 17,226 in 2009. As of January 1, around 500,000 immigrants were living in Norway, which has a population of 4.9 million and is expected to pass 5 million later this year.

Some positive views
The new study indicates that Norway, which produced record numbers of emigrants itself when it was still a poor and developing nation, clearly continues to struggle with accepting immigrants now that it’s become an affluent nation. Despite the rising skepticism portrayed in the study, some portions of it showed more positive views on Norway’s relatively recent transition from a largely homogenous to a more multi-cultural society.

Fully 80 percent, for example, agreed that it was “positive” for children to go to school with other children from “various cultures,” and around half of those questioned think Norwegian businesses should employ more immigrants.

The study also indicated that many more Norwegians now have regular contact with immigrants than they did in 2005, and nearly 90 percent said those immigrants who are granted permanent residence in Norway should have the same rights as Norwegians.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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  • Rob

    I think the problem with immigration is mainly due to the kind of people who come, accepting peasants from Pakistan, Northern Africa and the Middle East was always going to create problems. These are generally not educated people in my experience. So in regards to this statement “That failure is often tied to failure to learn the Norwegian language, even though proficiency in Norwegian can be a daunting challenge for even the most highly educated adults moving to Norway.” Expecting the above mentioned people to learn Norwegian and intergrate is going to be a huge mountain to climb.

    Maybe if Norway set it sights on educated people from Eastern Europe immigration wouldn’t be so much of an issue. But then the big problem is highly educated/qualified people aren’t going to come to Norway because they can earn far more money and live a much better lifestyle in elsewhere.

    • anum

      Well people from pakistan are the most well integrated immigrants in Norway, they actually work, pay taxes, my husband pays nearly NOK 350,000 only in taxes he is a phd ,I am a masters in I.T, you can say that’s a rare execption but pakistanis are present in parliment, unions, offices I don’t know what else is integration ,If it’s changing your life according to other people’s thinking, sorry atleast I don’t call that Integrating…I just know one thing all countries trying to avoid imigration should educate themselves enough, obtain the degrees, skills so that you don’t need ppl frm other countries 🙂

      • jef

        Perhaps, because they are such a large immigrant group in Norway. But even so, one could argue this is largely superficial (language only…if that, in some cases). This would depend, of course, on their family background (such as a family that closely retains a traditional tribal/religious way of life). Family reunification is highly detrimental to integration though, as are arranged marriages with spouses from the country of origin. Obviously this does not apply to everyone, as would be the case with some of those persons who are highly educated or first generation Norwegians who do not retain as much of their family’s cultural identity and values. For them there is a higher probability of integration. I would still wager that other Europeans are better integrated since they come from a Western background to begin with.

  • Bjørn14

    I think the problem is that Norwegians don’t want immigrants from non-Western nations that refuse to integrate.

    • Rob

      The problem is the idiot bleeding heart socialists in power think that they should allow them in, the next problem is the Norwegian people (I don’t know any who want non western immigrants) continue to vote in AP and co, if they voted for the other side they wouldn’t be in the predicament they are in today.

  • Juho

    I am have to ask this simple but very important question before commenting on this article: What is “integration”? How you define it? How you measure it? How do you know someone has integrated or not?

    Anybody pls…answer me!

  • If a foreigner in Norway learns the language, has a job, obeys the law, pays taxes, is helpful to other people, yet maintains a lifestyle inherent to his of her own religious belief without telling others to do so, then that perosn has integrated well enough.
    You can’t expect a foreigner to be 100% Norwegian, but you can expect him to contribute positevely to society. That’s in my view sufficient.

    • anum

      Exactly 🙂 , but if you are educated enough to get a job elsewhere there is no point of living here forever. At least we don’t have any intention to do that, just go to a country where you are welcomed 🙂

  • Matt

    Well put Rob and Shah. Intergration means different things to different people. It’s not just about the religion though it’s also the culture. Norway should be making it harder for non-educated immigrants, limiting refugees, and be trying to attract well educated people! They also need to face facts. Inner Central/East Oslo is turning into slum because the Labour Party is still in Power and seems to have no idea what to do with the immigrants/refugees once they have got to here!

  • C.

    I think learning Norwegian should be a big stipulation in the immigration process. One should be a Norwegian at heart before being granted the rights and benefits of native citizens. Language is a big part of who the Norwegian people are and if immigrants can’t be bothered to learn that much then why should they be granted anything?

    Just a silly opinion from an American.. 🙂

    • Caleb

      Not silly at all, C, that was very well said. Clearly something has to change because so many Norwegians are not happy with the status quo, and aren’t going to get happier if more and more immigrants continue to come in under the same circumstances.

    • Sverre

      I agree language is very important for integration in Norway, but it is also important for Norwegian people to start appreciating cultural diversity. Without those immigrants Norway’s economy would never rise. The key problem here is that immigrants feel unappreciated, because the Norwegian society is not truly willing to accept them. I think you are white and it would be easier for you to get accepted in the Norwegian society. If you are brown, you need to change your name and background in order to start a career. Why is it like that? Why do immigrants have to change where they come from to be accepted in Norway?