Tuesday, January 19, 2016

France, Muslims and Terrorism

From my "Diverse Thoughts" blog...

As noted in this mini-documentary from CBS news "It sucks to be a Muslim in France"...
[I consulted with the producer of the mini-documentary as an expert on the topic]

One of my first trips to Paris as a graduate student in 1995 coincided with a series of terrorist bomb attacks, likely by Algerian Islamic extremists (CNN, 1995), that led to the removal of all garbage cans in the city. Many years later, as a professor working on a book project, I happened to stay in a hotel which was about a block away from where one of the busses had blown up during the 7/7 bombing attacks. Many have written about whether or not terror attacks like the 7/7 bombings or 9/11 have led to a securitization of immigration policy. What is different now is that Europe is currently experiencing the largest flow of refugees since the end of World War II, and most of those refugees are coming from Syria and other parts of the Middle East, meaning many of these migrants are Muslims.

Many European countries have faced terror attacks over the years and have taken a variety of measures to improve security. However, even though new measures may be taken to deal with security, such as stricter screening of immigrants and refugees, most European countries, including countries like Germany, France and Sweden, have remained open to refugees fleeing violence, whether they were Muslims fleeing conflicts in the Balkans or Iraqi minorities fleeing sectarian violence.

Europe has faced a challenge integrating Muslims from various countries and backgrounds. However, it is important to keep in mind that the recent attacks in Paris appear to have been perpetrated by so-called “home grown terrorists,” i.e., radicalized Muslims who were born and raised in Europe. This makes the connection between terrorism and refugees rather tenuous.

Perhaps a larger issue, in terms of integration, is the situation for immigrants, ethnic minorities and Muslim citizens, given that many of them live on the margins of society. Many are the targets of racism, but also have to deal with living in places like the suburbs (banlieus) of Paris where they have little educational and job opportunities. France has been trying to address this issue for many years, with a variety of policies, including antidiscrimination policy, as described in my book, Legislating Equality. Although the French government initially embraced antidiscrimination policy through its equality body, politics eventually reduced the impact of its activities related to racism.

Journalist and documentarian Rokhaya Diallo has examined these issues through the lens of Americans visiting France in her recent work, Steps to Liberty. Going back to the 1995 movie, La Haine (Hate) it seems that little has changed. However, I have seen a new awareness developing among various groups including Muslims and those who now consider themselves black and French. I have written about the impact of racial equality legislation on blacks in France in the book Invisible Minorities. These groups have the potential to develop as voting blocks and to impact politics in France, as well as other European countries. These political developments can be important to the integration of minority groups and may ultimately create a new outlet for the frustrations that can lead to radicalization.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Immigration News and Views

Immigration News and Views: Immigration Texas has moved to http://givensimmigration.blogspot.com    In the latest news it's becoming clear that immigration will be a  hot topic for GOP primary candidates [click on link for more].

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Thoughts on my week in Germany - Immigration, Anti-discrimination Policy and a Humanitarian Crisis

It was a fast-paced whirlwind trip to Germany, but it was a great opportunity to engage with a variety of people who are interested in issues related to immigration and anti-discrimination policy. My last stop was in Hamburg where I spoke at the University of Hamburg, and the U.S. Consulate. At the Consulate, I spoke with a group of people who had done overseas exchange programs to the U.S., like the Fulbright program. It was very interesting to hear their perspectives as professionals, particularly from one woman who is a teacher in a school that has a large number of migrant children. She discussed her frustrations as a Turkish woman, and we talked about the need for better training for teachers. I also talked about the institutionalization of equal opportunity and how to develop a new culture in corporations.

Before my talk at the Consulate, I passed by it as I went for a run around the trail which goes around the Alster lake:

I was featured in the local newspaper in Heidelberg:

"Die Europäer sollten lernen, pragmatischer mit Migration umzugehen"

Die Migrationsforscherin Terri Givens über Flüchtlingspolitik in den USA und Europa und Wege gegen die illegale Einwanderung
23.04.2015, 06:00 Uhr
"Einwanderung lässt sich nicht verhindern", ist Terri Givens von der Universität in Austin überzeugt. Foto: Rothe
Von Christian Altmeier
Heidelberg. Terri Givens ist Professorin für Politikwissenschaft an der Universität von Texas in Austin. Die RNZ sprach mit der Expertin für Einwanderungspolitik am Rande eines Vortrags über die Flüchtlingsproblematik in Europa und den USA im Deutsch-Amerikanischen Institut (DAI) in Heidelberg.

One recurring issue this week was how to deal with the ongoing flow of people crossing the Mediterranean. As the EU struggles to deal with the humanitarian crisis that is playing out in the Mediterranean, I hope the member states will find a way to come together and work with the broader international community to immediately expand the search and rescue missions, and develop broad range strategies that will address the complicated set of issues that are leading people to take such desperate measures.

From Der Spiegel:

An Unending Refugee Tragedy: Europe's Path to Deadly Partition

Migrants want to disembark on an Italian Navy vessel in Salerno, Italy. Between...
Migrants want to disembark on an Italian Navy vessel in Salerno, Italy. Between January and April of this year, 1,750 migrants died making the maritime crossing from Africa to Europe. Fifty-four migrants died during that same timespan last year.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

If it’s Thursday, I must be in Kiel

After a pleasant evening in Hamburg, I arose Thursday morning to another nice,but colder, day. Since the trains were still on strike, the American consulate provided a driver to take me to Kiel which is a little over an hour from Hamburg. Riding in the consulate’s sedan made me feel a bit like a celebrity, it’s the first time I've been driven around during one of my trips to Europe.
At the University of Kiel

At the University of Kiel I was hosted by the Center for North American Studies and the Amerika-Gesellschaft Schleswig-Holstein. The audience of ~50 people was mostly made up of student,s several of whom are studying immigration policy issues in the U.S. I spoke about the development of antidiscrimination policy in both the US and Europe, and the need for integrating or mainstreaming the policies into corporate cultures. We also discussed the current refugee crisis in the Mediterranean, which I argued is more humanitarian crisis than immigration problem. Another topic was the issue of police killings of unarmed black people in places like Ferguson. I pointed out that some of the issues are systemic, but are also due to institutional structures that allow bad police officers to stay on, or be rehired even after they have been found wanting. The situation is complicated, but I noted that the Justice Department has often stepped in to try and force changes when the systemic issues are clear. There is much more work to do, and racial profiling is also an issue in Europe, I'm particularly aware of it in France.

I returned to Hamburg to enjoy some time in the central district, here are some pictures from my walk:


Some views of the Rathaus (city hall)

Monument to WW1 - 40,000 from Hamburg died...

 TV tower at sunset

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

From Stuttgart to Heidelberg to Hamburg

It is another gorgeous day in Germany, unfortunately I had to spend most of the day indoors. Despite the train strike, we were able to find a train that was running that would get me to Heidelberg on time for my lunch time talk. So what have I been talking about so far on this trip? My first two talks in Freiburg and Stuttgart focused on antidiscrimination policies in the US and Europe. My main point in the first talk was how individuals from MEP Glyn Ford to the head of the Migration Policy Group, Jan Niessen were able to work with EU institutions to develop and ultimately pass what would be called the Racial Equality Directive. The talk is based on my book, Legislating Equality (Oxford University Press, 2014), but I also talked about how civil rights legislation developed in the U.S. 50 years ago and how it has become institutionalized in corporate cultures by personnel managers who worked to develop internal regulations, like making sure that jobs were broadly advertised, that would allow them to avoid being accused of discrimination. For this part of the talk I draw on Frank Dobbins’ book, Inventing Equal Opportunity.

During the Q&A it was clear that the audiences were interested in learning about how issues of discrimination were playing out in both the U.S. and Germany, particularly issues of racial profiling. Some shared their own experiences of discrimination, and wondered what it would take to change attitudes, or the way that people are conditioned to respond to people of different backgrounds and/or women. I talked about the development of training programs, but also institutional structures which made it difficult to discriminate, or made it easier to uncover discrimination. Some key issues we discussed included disparate impact and the need to collect data to determine indirect discrimination.
In the discussions I have had with my hosts, there is a strong interest in American politics, particularly the start of the presidential campaign season. Apparently Angela Merkel has said she is supporting Hilary Clinton, which is interesting that she would state a preference so early in the campaign. Merkel has had a difficult relationship with President Obama, so I’m sure she is looking forward to a change in the administration.

My talk in Heidelberg focused on the politics of immigration, which is a hot topic right now due to the drowning of approximately1,000 asylum seekers in the Mediterranean. I spoke for about 20 minutes on issues related to immigration legislation and immigrant integration. This was my biggest audience so far, about 75 people were there for the lunch talk. It was a very engaged audience, during the Q&A they asked a range of questions, including how we can integrate immigrants who come from countries that are not democratic. One man used the example of the Balkans, and I wish I would have thought to remind him that most Germans didn’t have a problem with a return to democracy after WWII. In terms of the drownings in the Mediterranean, I talked about the need to focus on the humanitarian crisis, but that for the long-term, the EU needed to agree on a series of measures working with the transit countries that goes beyond detention as well as addressing the conflicts in places like Libya that are causing the surge of refugees. Often in these kinds of situations, I’m seen as a representative of the U.S., so there were questions about how the U.S. has dealt with democratization in places like Afghanistan and Iraq. There were several comments about history, and how Germany has always had migrants like the Huguenots, Italians and many others going back centuries. I spoke with a local reporter after the talk about border issues faced by the U.S. and Europe as well as which country I would choose to go to if I was a refugee – my first choice would be the U.S. but if I didn’t have that option, I would choose the UK, I feel like I would fit in well in London.
Due to the rail strike, I took a bus from Heidelberg to Frankfurt airport and flew to Hamburg. I had a better experience in the airport this time, but I was surprised that I never had to show my ID before boarding the plan, just my boarding pass. As I drove to my hotel, I noticed that Hamburg reminded me more of Paris than other German cities. Even my hotel had a French-themed brasserie where I had dinner. More talks tomorrow!

Here are a few shots of Heidelberg, unfortunately I didn't have much time to see the city.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

From Freiburg to Stuttgart 4/21/15

My day got off to a good start with a run along the river in Freiburg.

Unfortunately later in the morning I learned that Deutsche Bahn, the German train system, is going on strike on Wednesday. That just happens to be the day that I have several trains to catch, from Stuttgart to Heidelberg and Heidelberg to Hamburg. My trip is sponsored by the US Embassy, so they were able to make other arrangements via bus and plane. This trip is turning into a version of “planes, trains and automobiles” although buses need to be included.

On my way from Freiburg to Stuttgart I had to change trains at Karlsruhe and in another very un-German situation, my train was delayed and I missed my connection. Luckily there was a regional train a few minutes later, but it meant stops in every small town between Karlsruhe and Stuttgart. Again, I shouldn’t complain too much, since there are other options, but between the strike and delayed trains, the DeutscheBahn’s reputation is taking a major hit on this trip. I’ll also have to revise my lecture on Germany as a good example of corporatism, which is supposed to avoid strikes, given that there was a strike by Lufthansa pilots back in April. I also heard there is going to be a general strike in Belgium on Wednesday...so it seems to be turning into strike season across Europe. Strikes and protests are a regular occurrence in France, but they seem to be happening more regularly in Germany in my visits over the past year.

I was lucky to meet up with a couple of former students in Stuttgart and we walked around town, the weather has been gorgeous on this trip.

We had a good turnout for tonight's lecture and we had a very lively discussion about discrimination and ways to institutionalize antidiscrimination policy.

The main pedestrian shopping street

Folks appreciating the sun and warmth today - along with an interesting mix of architecture 

The Rathaus or City Hall (yes, it's ugly)

People out enjoying the wonderful weather in front of the "new" castle 

My hosts:

My former student Inga