Integrationsdebatte (Integration debate)
Over recent decades, various premises have informed the public and the political debate about migration. The basis of the more recent integration discourse is the Immigration Act which entered into force in 2005, whose purpose is "to control and restrict immigration and to regulate the residence and integration of EU citizens and foreigners" (Federal Law Gazette, 2004, I/41, Bonn, 05.08.04) and which places great emphasis on the promotion of integration. In this context, the first National Integration Summit was held in 2006, with a follow-up event in 2007 when the Federal Government unveiled its first National Integration Plan. "Immigrants should be able to make a full and equal contribution in all areas of society. They therefore have a duty to learn the German language and to accept, respect and abide by Germany's constitution and laws." (www.integration-in-deutschland.de) Accordingly, German integration policy is guided by the principle of "promoting and demanding" (www.zuwanderung.de), with relevant measures including a nationwide system of language and orientation courses designed mainly for new arrivals.
For some years now, there have been vociferous debates in the public arena about whether integration in Germany has been successful or not. One issue which, in many cases, has yet to be clarified in this context is what exactly is meant by "integration". The possibilities range from diversity and harmonious community relations to calls for immigrants to adapt to mainstream society.