Integration, Diversity and Inclusion: My Overview Deck, updated for 2019

This overview deck on immigration, integration, citizenship and multiculturalism has been updated with 2019 data.

A few sample slides, full deck via link below:

Integration – General Deck 2020

No need to show proof of work permit to get CERB, Ottawa tells temporary foreign residents

Generous flexibility:

The federal government has taken new steps to make it easier for international students and other temporary foreign residents to receive emergency benefits, another sign of Ottawa’s determination to disburse the payments quickly and widely.

Such short-term immigrants need only give their word they have a valid work permit or have applied for a renewed one to obtain the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), says a memo sent this week to staff vetting the claims.

Until last Thursday, they had to email Employment and Social Development Canada an image of their valid work or work/study permit, or confirmation they had applied to renew an expired one.

But a memo sent to Employment and Social Development Canada officials handling CERB applications said that condition is waived “effective immediately” and agents “are only required to verbally obtain work permit details.”

The directive applies to everyone who claims to meet the programs other requirements and has a “900-series” social insurance number — people ranging from students to refugee claimants to temporary foreign workers and executives transferred from other countries. None are Canadian citizens or permanent residents.

One source familiar with the system said people with valid permits would typically email proof within a few minutes, barely slowing the process. But now there is no way for staff to verify whether someone is in the country legally, the person said.

And if an applicant does receive the $2,000-a-month payments inappropriately and then leaves Canada, it would be virtually impossible to recover the money, said the source, who’s not authorized to discuss internal matters and asked not to be named.

Outside experts offered differing opinions, with one immigrant advocate calling it an “excellent” policy that should get important help to temporary residents faster, and an immigration lawyer saying it shows an “astonishing” disregard for taxpayer funds.

Maya Dura, a spokeswoman for Ahmed Hussen, the families, children and social devlopment minister, said such claimants “may be asked to provide additional documentation to verify their eligibility at a future date.”

“The Government of Canada will, whether it be in the upcoming weeks or at tax time next year, reconcile accounts and make sure people did not defraud the CERB,” she added via email.

Asked about 900-series residents generally, Dura provided statistics just for international students, saying 39,319 had applied for CERB through ESDC by May 18, and 30,645 have received payments so far.

The CERB program has wide support from all parties as a way to soften the blow for people left jobless or unable to find work by the pandemic and lockdowns. It provides $500 a week to people who “have stopped working” because of COVID-19, so long as they made $5,000 within the previous 12 months and did not quit voluntarily.

But there has been increasing scrutiny of the program in recent days amid revelations about how it’s being managed. Previous memos, obtained by the National Post, directed staff to approve applicants even if they see evidence of potential abuse, and even if people quit their jobs voluntarily or were fired for alleged misconduct, seemingly contrary to CERB rules.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said the government will claw back unwarranted or fraudulent payments later, but had to get cheques out quickly because of the millions of people put out of work.

Sergio Karas, a Toronto immigration lawyer, condemned the latest change, saying it means even an individual who is facing a deportation order or who had already left the country could now obtain CERB.

“It’s truly astonishing,” he said. “The person could potentially be overseas if the payment is going to a Canadian bank account. That is extremely troubling.”

“That money is not free,” he added. “That money is going to have to come out of someone’s pocket at some point. It is going to be the taxpayers of Canada, citizens or not.”

But Debbie Douglas, executive director of the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants, praised the policy as “an excellent move by the federal government.”

“Many of these individuals through no fault of their own are unable to have their SINs and-or work permits renewed during this health emergency,” she said by email. “At the same time many have lost their jobs or have experienced significant reduction in hours of work. Many were or are vulnerable to evictions. “

Thursday’s directive is “very useful” as it will help speed up CERB cheques for people who haven’t had time to apply for a permit renewal, said Douglas.

The memo last week notes that to be eligible for benefits like Employment Insurance or CERB a temporary resident with a 900-series SIN “must prove they are legally allowed to work in Canada.”

But “due to COVID-19 the 900-series SIN procedures have been simplified,” it said in explaining the change to requiring merely verbal proof,

The government had paid out $39 billion under CERB to more than eight million claimants by May 21.

Source: No need to show proof of work permit to get CERB, Ottawa tells temporary foreign residents

Denmark’s ‘ghetto plan’ and the communities it targets

Hard to see how these measures will improve integration instead of promoting separation and exclusion, particularly those related to differential penalties and punishments:

At the end of each year, the Danish government publishes a list of what it classifies as the country’s “ghettos”. There are currently 28.

Areas where more than 50 percent of residents are immigrants or descendants of “non-Western countries” can be designated a “ghetto” based on the following criteria: income, percentage of those employed, levels of education and proportion of people with criminal convictions.

Denmark is currently executing its controversial national “ghetto plan” – One Denmark without Parallel Societies: No Ghettos in 2030 – introduced by the previous government in March 2018, and now passed into a set of harsh laws and a housing policy.

This involves the physical demolishment and transformation of low-income, largely Muslim neighbourhoods. Residents of these areas – working-class, immigrant and refugee communities – say the measures are aimed at containing as well as dispersing them.

The term “ghetto”, with its negative connotations of festering crime, unemployment and dysfunction is a source of anguish for residents who believe the plan stigmatises them further while offering no improvements to their conditions. Anger, confusion and a feeling of betrayal are mounting among those deemed to be living in “ghettos”.

Residents of “ghettos” are now subject to a different set of rules. Penalties for crimes can be doubled. Certain violations, for example, which are normally finable offences could mean imprisonment.

Laws passed last March require children from the age of one to spend at least 25 hours a week in childcare to receive mandatory training in “Danish values”. There was even a proposal from the far-right Danish People’s party that “ghetto children” should have a curfew of 8pm, although that was rejected by the parliament.

But perhaps one of the most insidious rules is that public housing in so-called “hard ghettos” will be limited to only 40 percent of total housing by 2030. This means that public housing is now either being torn down, redeveloped or rented to private companies. The fear is that thousands across Denmark may have to leave their homes. By some reports, that number could be more than 11,000 people.

Poul Aaroe Pedersen, a spokesperson at the Ministry of Transport and Housing, which is overseeing the housing changes, said in an email that the aim “is to prevent parallel societies” by integrating “socially disadvantaged residential areas” with the surrounding community through the development of different types of housing.

Pederson said it is not possible to provide an exact number for how many people would need to move.

According to lawyer Morten Tarp, two communities, one in the city of Helsingor and the other in the town of Slagelse, whose residents he is working to support, will receive the country’s first housing contract termination notices in early 2020.

Mjolnerparken, a so-called “hard ghetto”, is a four-block housing complex situated in Norrebro, a lively, multicultural and gentrifying district in Copenhagen.

There, 260 residencies will be sold. Residents have been informed through the housing association that they will have to move and are being encouraged to relocate to other areas. Many are uncertain about what will happen next.

We visited Mjolnerparken and spoke to four residents about how the regulations are affecting their lives and their fears for the future.

Source: https://aje.io/8qwf7

ICYMI: Montreal aims to break down barriers for immigrants in the workplace

Once again, contrast between Montreal and the regions:

Mayor Valérie Plante stood in front of 10 red doors inscribed with messages like: “Let’s open doors to employment for them,” “We hold all the keys” and “We can all play a role.”

The life-size doors on display at Complexe Desjardins aim to illustrate the barriers that still face immigrants in the job market and to urge employers to hire them.

“Sixty per cent of immigrants arriving in Quebec choose to settle in Montreal but unfortunately, even today, the doors to employment are still mostly shut rather than open for immigrants,” said Plante, as she launched a month-long public awareness campaign with Shahir Guindi, national co-chair of the Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt law firm and chair of the board of the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal.

While unemployment is at a historic low of five per cent, it is much higher among newcomers, despite the fact that 40 per cent of immigrants are university educated and 10 per cent hold graduate degrees, Plante said.

Montreal ranks fifth among the North American metropolitan regions that attract the most immigrants, according to Canadian and U.S. immigration numbers. However, it lags behind other Canadian cities in helping them integrate and find jobs.

The unemployment rate among newcomers to Montreal was 9.8 per cent in 2016, compared with 5.9 per cent for residents who were born in Canada, according to the Canadian Index for Measuring Integration (CIMI), coordinated by the Association for Canadian Studies (ACS).

More than 22 per cent of immigrants in Montreal live below the poverty line, compared with 12 per cent of Canadian-born citizens, it shows.

Overall, the city ranks 30th out of 35 among Canadian cities for immigrants’ economic performance compared to the rest of the population, according to CIMI.

Plante said she met with about 50 business leaders and officials with the provincial immigration department last year to chart a strategy to improve outcomes for newcomers.

The awareness campaign has support from 18 executives at the National Bank, Métro, Deloitte Canada, Mouvement Desjardins, as well as public or non-profit organizations like the Société de transport de Montréal (STM), Centraide and the Université du Québec à Montréal.

Its French-only website encourages employers to favour diversity in their workforces by making it a company value and requiring managers to implement inclusive policies. It also calls on average Montrealers in the workforce to become aware of their own prejudices and to reach out to immigrants in their work and social circles by sharing contacts and helping them with their CVs.

However, ACS president Jack Jedwab said that while the initiative was praiseworthy, it did not address the negative message the Quebec government has sent by reducing the number of immigrants to Montreal by 24 per cent in 2019 over the previous year.

“We should do what we need to do to encourage and help people to improve their skills, so that they are in line with the needs of the economy,” he said.

“But the bigger messaging from the government isn’t as positive,” Jedwab noted.

The Coalition Avenir Québec government’s rationale for slashing immigration despite the current labour shortage was that newcomers are not integrating sufficiently into Quebec society, he said.

“You are sending a message that suggests that there is a problem out there,” he said.

Greater Montreal received 28,900 immigrants in the first 10 months of 2019, the last period for which numbers are available, compared to 38,315 for the corresponding period in 2018, Jedwab said.

The city received a total of 43,795 newcomers in 2018 and 44,725 in 2017, he said.

In 2019, Vancouver surpassed Montreal for the first time as a destination for newcomers, with 34,095 immigrants from January to October 2019. It received 35,265 immigrants in 2018 and 29,830 immigrants in 2017.

Toronto received 102,965 immigrants in the first 10 months of 2019. The number of newcomers was 106,460 in 2018 and 86,580 in 2017.

“Toronto is reaping a lot of the benefits of immigration in terms of its economy,” Jedwab said, noting that immigration “is the single source of growth for our population.”

In Toronto, the unemployment rate among immigrants in 2016 was 7.5 per cent, compared with 7.7 per cent among the Canadian-born population. However, immigrants in Toronto had higher rates of poverty than the native-born population, with 19 per cent of newcomers living below the poverty line compared with 11 per cent of people born in Canada.

Source: Montreal aims to break down barriers for immigrants in the workplace

[Herald Interview] ‘Multiculturalism is inevitable in Korea’s future’

More on the changing nature of Korean society:

Over 2 million residents now live in Korea, according to government data. This is more than double the figure in 2007 when the number hit 1 million for the first time.

“Multiculturalism is inevitable in Korea’s future,” Kim Do-gyun, president of the Korea Immigration Service Foundation, told The Korea Herald on Tuesday, a day before International Migrants Day.

When the foundation was established in 2004, its chief aim was to provide administrative assistance to the immigration office. But as the immigrant population grew, the foundation broadened its role to supporting foreign immigrants in adapting to and settling in Korean society.

“We have run integration programs for nearly 10 years now with the goal of helping immigrants prepare for their lives here,” he said.

The program includes introduction to language and cultural characteristics, as well as immigrant rights.

Allowing immigrants to make a smooth transition to their new homes is beneficial not only to the immigrants as individuals but to society as a whole, according to Kim.

“Most immigrants are here through marriage or on employment permit,” Kim said.

“They are often at a disadvantage, and unfortunately subject to discrimination at times,” he said. “Support is needed for healthy adaptation and acculturation.”

“If we fail them as a society in helping them settle in Korea or assimilate — should they want to — into our culture, that is one more person isolated from being able to function as a member of our community.”

Kim also spoke against prejudices immigrants face.

“Some 7.5 million Koreans live overseas. That is three times the number of immigrants — 2.5 million — living here,” he said, pointing out that migration was a natural occurrence in a globalized world.

“We have to stop thinking of immigrants in the third person. Because we may well be in their shoes someday.”

Moreover, Korea will have to rely on immigrants for its future labor force, Kim said, given the aging population.

“Politicians refrain from talking about immigrants because the subject is not exactly a vote-winner,” he said. “But what alternative is there for the aging crisis (than immigration)?”

“Our future is multicultural,” he said. “No culture is independent from outside influences. Homogeneity is a myth.”

As for undocumented immigrants, Kim said there should be legal channels through which they could be allowed entry.

“For instance, there are vacancies in jobs unwanted by locals that these illegal immigrants are willing to fill,” he said.

Since assuming office in March, Kim said he has worked on reaching out to immigrant communities and raising awareness about the foundation.

Kim said from his decades of experience in immigration services that immigrants were the ones more eager to learn about Korea and Koreans.

“But Koreans are not as ready to learn about immigrants or understand them,” he said. “This has to be a two-way street. If we are welcoming and open-minded, our new neighbors will find their way soon enough.”

Source: [Herald Interview] ‘Multiculturalism is inevitable in Korea’s future’

Changes in outcomes of immigrants and non-permanent residents, 2017 Text – Selected

The latest. Some encouraging trends:

Immigrants admitted to Canada in 2016 reported a median entry wage of $25,900 in 2017, the highest recorded among immigrants admitted since 1981. Although the entry wages of recent immigrants have increased over the past few years, their income remains lower than that of the overall Canadian population. The Canadian Income Survey estimated the Canadian population’s median wage at $36,100 in 2017.

When immigrants arrive in Canada, they face a number of challenges, such as getting their credentials recognized, being able to speak one of the official languages and acquiring Canadian work experience. However, the longer immigrants live in Canada, the more their income increases and, for some, their income reaches the level of the overall Canadian population.

This analysis uses new data from the Longitudinal Immigration Database (IMDB), which comprises information on permanent and non-permanent (temporary) residents, including asylum claimants. It presents the type of information that can be extracted from the IMDB and its outputs to better understand how the socioeconomic situation of these individuals has evolved.

Recent immigrants have higher entry wages and more work experience prior to admission than before

Over the past 10 years, the median entry wage of immigrants, one year after admission, in 2017 constant dollars, has increased from $20,400 for the 2007 admission year to $25,900 for the 2016 admission year (+27%).

Not all immigrants face the same challenges after admission. Those who had work experience in Canada upon admission reported the highest median entry wages. For the 2016 admission year, income one year after arrival was $39,800 for study and work permit holders, and $38,100 for work permit holders only. These wages are comparable with those of the entire Canadian population. For immigrants who had no experience prior to admission, or who had a study permit only, incomes were $19,900 and $12,500, respectively.

In recent years, an increasing number of non-permanent resident permit holders are transitioning to permanent residence. The observed growth in entry wages can be partly accounted for by differences in income between immigrants with pre-admission work experience in Canada and immigrants without such work experience. From the 2007 admission year to the 2016 admission year, the number of immigrant taxfilers one year after arrival who had work experience in Canada increased by 166%, while the number of immigrants without work experience rose 2%.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Number of immigrant taxfilers one year after admission, by admission year and work experience in Canada prior to admission
Number of immigrant taxfilers one year after admission, by admission year and work experience in Canada prior to admission

Chart 1: Number of immigrant taxfilers one year after admission, by admission year and work experience in Canada prior to admission

Immigrants who hold at least a pre-admission study permit have stronger wage catch-up in the 10 years after admission

Overall, immigrants’ wages increase with the number of years since admission and, for some, their wages eventually reach that of the overall Canadian population ($36,100). For example, the median wage for immigrants admitted in 2007 increased from $20,400 in 2008 to $33,500 in 2017, an increase of 64%.

Wage catch-up factors include pre-admission work experience, which facilitates integration through increased knowledge of official languages and the development of professional networks in Canada, among other things. In 2017, immigrants admitted in 2007 who had held both a study permit and a work permit prior to admission had the highest median wage (up 81% to $63,800), and their wage exceeded that of immigrants who held only a work permit (up 36% to $48,100) and that of Canadians as a whole. The median wage of immigrants admitted in 2007 who held only a pre-admission study permit increased significantly over 10 years (up 163% to $37,600) and now exceeds the median wage of immigrants without pre-admission experience (up 72% to $30,700).

Chart 2  Chart 2: Median wage of immigrants admitted in 2007, 1 year and 10 years after admission, by pre-admission experience
Median wage of immigrants admitted in 2007, 1 year and 10 years after admission, by pre-admission experience

Chart 2: Median wage of immigrants admitted in 2007, 1 year and 10 years after admission, by pre-admission experience

The median wage for asylum claimants increases with length of residence in country

Asylum claimants are individuals who request refugee protection in Canada. Because of their situation, they face many challenges in terms of economic integration. Even after their refugee claim is accepted, asylum claimants have lower median wages than other immigrants with pre-admission experience.

According to a Statistics Canada article on asylum claimants published earlier this year, the number of claimants fluctuated from 2000 to 2018 and reached over 50,000 in 2017 and 2018. Asylum claimants are relatively young. Of those who arrived in 2017, 39% were younger than 25 years of age, while 14% were aged 45 or older.

The median entry wage for asylum claimant taxfilers refers to their income one year after they submitted their refugee claim. Among those who claimed refugee status from 2006 to 2016, the median wage fluctuated between $10,900 and $16,000. As with immigrants, the median wage of asylum claimants increases with each additional year spent in the country. Therefore, the median wage for those who submitted a refugee claim in 2006 was $14,100 in 2007 and $28,600 in 2017.

There are significant differences in income among the top 15 countries of origin for asylum claimants. Among asylum claimants in 2012 who filed taxes in 2017, the highest median wages were reported by claimants from Sri Lanka ($31,600), Somalia ($30,700) and Nigeria ($30,700). Claimants from Afghanistan ($18,200), Iraq ($17,300) and China ($14,300) reported the lowest median wages.

Economic immigrants and their dependants stay more frequently in their province of admission when they have pre-admission work experience

Reasons for immigrating to Canada can influence the likelihood of immigrants to remain in their province of admission over time. For example, family class immigrants come to Canada to be closer to their loved ones, while economic immigrants are selected based on their ability to contribute to the Canadian economy.

In 2017, 86% of immigrant taxfilers admitted in 2012 filed a tax return in their province of admission. The provincial retention rate was highest among family-sponsored immigrants (93%) and slightly lower among refugees (87%). For economic immigrants and their dependants, the retention rate was 82%. However, for these immigrants, the rate was higher among those with a pre-admission work permit only (90%) than among those with no pre-admission experience (81%).

A Crying Need for Japanese-Language Instruction Among Immigrants

Coming to terms with immigration and related integration realities:

The number of foreign residents in Japan has been growing by about 150,000 annually since 2014, reaching an all-time high of 2.8 million in 2019. At a time of mounting concern over labor shortages and other consequences of demographic aging and population decline, these newcomers—most of whom are under 30—represent a vital resource. The crucial question is whether they can build rewarding lives as productive and accepted members of Japanese society. That will depend very much on their ability to communicate in Japanese, a notoriously difficult language for foreigners to learn.

Unfortunately, it is not at all unusual to encounter foreign residents who are functionally illiterate in Japanese even after living here a decade or more. Many are ill-equipped to cope in the event of an emergency.

The Japanese government must bear much of the blame for this state of affairs. While Germany, South Korea, and many other countries sponsor semi-mandatory orientation and social integration programs, including language instruction, the Japanese government has left it to local communities to respond as they see fit with the resources at their disposal. Fortunately, that is beginning to change.

Signs of Change

The impetus for change has come from the passage in December 2018 of the amended Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act, which officially opened Japan’s doors to lower-skilled foreign workers. In conjunction with the new law, the government announced a package of “comprehensive measures for acceptance and coexistence of foreign nationals.” Although this policy document does not have the force of law, it articulates a commitment by the Japanese government to support the social integration of foreign nationals. This in itself is a major step forward.

With regard to the specific issue of language training for foreigners, the measures include budget allocations for improvement and expansion of the existing “community Japanese-language education” program, which relies on local volunteers, with the goal of  ensuring access to instruction in all communities nationwide. It also earmarks funds for the development of multilingual online language-training resources to meet the diverse needs of learners.

In the spring of 2019, the Commission on Japanese-Language Education (an advisory organ under the Agency for Cultural Affairs), of which I am a member, began deliberations on specific measures aimed at improving the level of Japanese-language education in Japan. One major agenda item is the development of a national system for the certification of qualified instructors. The goal is to boost the skills and expertise of Japanese-language teachers; to enhance the prestige of the profession; and to raise the level of Japanese-language education in Japan. We are also considering steps to standardize Japanese proficiency testing and align proficiency levels with those of the Common European Framework of References for Languages.

The Responsibility of the State

Meanwhile, an even more important step forward came in June 2019 with the enactment of a new law that recognizes the government’s responsibility to offer Japanese-language education to foreigners living in Japan. The bill was drafted and submitted by a cross-partisan group of lawmakers led by former Minister of Education Nakagawa Masaharu. While cognizant of the need for far-reaching, comprehensive legislative action to facilitate integration of foreign nationals into Japanese society, Nakagawa decided to place top priority on a Japanese-language education bill in the belief that it addressed an urgent need and was likely to win broad support in the Diet.

Article 1 of the law states that the government “shall carry out comprehensive and effective measures for the promotion of Japanese-language education and thereby contribute to the creation of a dynamic, inclusive society that respects cultural diversity.”

The law’s significance consists in its stipulation that providing Japanese-language education for foreign nationals in Japan is “a responsibility of the state.” It calls for a basic policy to be drawn up by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology (MEXT) and approved by a cabinet decision. It also calls on local governments to draw up policies consistent with that of the central government.

Notwithstanding the recent change in the Immigration Control Act, the government of Prime Minister Abe Shinzō continues to insist that it is not adopting “immigration policies” in the sense of measures to encourage or facilitate the permanent settlement of foreigners in Japan. Amid this denial, the explicit commitment to providing Japanese-language education to foreign nationals as a foundation for their acceptance and meaningful participation in an inclusive society is a major step in the right direction.

Challenges on the Ground

But to get a real sense of the task before us, we need to heed the actual voices of foreign residents and those attempting to serve them at the community level.

The Shinjuku Multicultural Community Building Committee was established by municipal ordinance in Shinjuku, Tokyo, where foreign nationals from more than 130 different countries account for 12% of the population. The committee, which I have the honor to chair, consists of more than 20 Japanese and foreign residents representing various demographic segments of the community. The members gather once every few months to discuss the challenges and issues confronting Shinjuku’s foreign residents. In the course of chairing these meetings, I have learned a great deal about the issues surrounding Japanese-language learning and teaching in this diverse community.

The first point to understand is that most foreign residents here are genuinely eager to study Japanese but find the obstacles daunting. While Shinjuku’s international community includes corporate executives with ample time to learn the language, many other foreign residents are juggling school and work, often holding multiple jobs. Mothers with small children, likewise, have very few options when it comes to attending language classes. We need to recognize and accommodate the increasingly diverse and complex circumstances of Japan’s foreign residents.

I also hear many complaints from the teaching side. In the absence of funding from either the central or local government, community-level Japanese-language education has had to rely on volunteers. Most are middle-aged or older married women who only want to teach during daytime hours on weekdays, and more and more are retiring from their volunteer jobs. As a result, Shinjuku’s community Japanese programs suffer from an acute shortage of personnel. Nor are they equipped with the resources and expertise to meet the diverse learning needs of this growing population. The question many people are asking is whether continued reliance on volunteers is a viable option.

Foreign residents also stress the need not just for Japanese instruction but also for direct “life guidance” to equip people from other cultures with the practical skills they need to function on a daily basis. A committee member representing the Nepalese community, for example, has made the point that an increasing portion of the young Nepalese who come to Japan to study or train have no previous experience with urban living. They come from rural areas and have never even been to Kathmandu. It is essential, he argues, that such people receive a basic orientation immediately after arriving if they are to avoid the pitfalls of navigating this alien environment. Providing such orientation could head off needless trouble.

Although Shinjuku’s municipal government has prepared living guides in multiple languages, which it issues to foreign students and trainees when they arrive, it offers no orientation classes, nor am I aware of any local governments that do so. As the foreign population of Japan diversifies, the central and local governments must work together to develop and institute an orientation program for new arrivals, along with Japanese-language instruction geared to foreign nationals who must learn local customs while living and working in Japan.

A Brewing Educational Crisis

Although adequate Japanese-language instruction for adults is critical, the educational needs of foreign children today are even more pressing.

According to data published by MEXT, as of May 1, 2018, there were 50,759 students in Japanese public schools identified as needing remedial Japanese-language instruction—an increase of 6,812 from the previous survey two years earlier. A recent MEXT survey found that, of the high school students identified as requiring remedial Japanese instruction as of 2017, a full 9.6% subsequently dropped out, as compared with a 1.3% dropout rate overall. Of the students requiring remediation who graduated in 2017, only 42.2% subsequently enrolled in a university, college of technology, or other postsecondary school, as compared with 71.1% of all 2017 high school graduates. A full 18.2% of them were unemployed, as compared with a 6.7% rate overall.

Learning to speak Japanese is not the biggest linguistic challenge facing foreign schoolchildren in Japan. The biggest challenge is kanji. During their six years in elementary school, Japanese children learn to read and write more than 1,000 kanji. Foreign children who transfer into the system after the beginning of third grade are already at a serious disadvantage. Poor reading skills tend to affect academic performance in almost every subject. By fifth or sixth grade, when many Japanese schoolchildren are already attending juku or enrichment programs, foreign students often find themselves socially isolated. Bullying is also a serious problem.

In places like Tokyo and Hamamatsu (Shizuoka Prefecture), where foreign students are no longer a rarity, many teachers work extra hours coaching them to improve their Japanese skills and help them catch up academically. A few schools have even hired additional faculty and staff in order to offer pull-out classes, with interpreters providing assistance. But only a fraction of the foreign children living in Japan have access to such support.

Foreign students face a major hurdle when it comes time to take the high school entrance examinations. The test results determine what kind of high school they can attend, which in turn determines their college and career prospects. And the vast majority of foreign students must take the written examination in Japanese in direct competition with their Japanese peers. In big cities like Tokyo and Osaka, there are a few schools that offer special admissions processes for foreign students, and there are also a growing number of nonprofits and other organizations dedicated to helping those students. But again, all too few have access to those services.

As the foregoing suggests, the academic and social pressures of school education in Japan can be overwhelming for young foreign nationals. When the stress builds up, students are apt to avoid school or simply stop attending altogether. In Japan, elementary and junior high school education is compulsory only for Japanese citizens, not for the children of foreign nationals. As a consequence, when a foreign student drops out, school authorities seldom intervene.

Leaving these children uneducated and unsupervised cannot possibly be a good thing, either for them or for the community as a whole. The government needs to address this brewing crisis by drawing up a robust policy for educational support, intervention, and accommodation and implementing it rigorously at the local level in collaboration with foreign residents, NPOs, Japanese-language instructors, and others.

Leaving No One Behind

Some progressive municipalities are leading the way with their own initiatives to support the adjustment and social integration of foreign nationals living in Japan. The city of Yokohama has established the Himawari Japanese-language support center to help recently arrived children adjust to Japanese schools. Hamamatsu has launched a program to ensure that all foreign children attend school. But for most municipalities, the education of non-Japanese children is still uncharted territory.

South Korea has established Rainbow Centers at 25 locations around the country to provide basic instruction in Korean language and customs to foreign children before they enter school. By comparison, Japan has only begun to develop dedicated facilities for such purposes, and it has a long way to go in terms of training and hiring the qualified professionals—including language teachers and interpreters—needed to staff them.

The number of foreigners living in Japan is now roughly equal to the entire population of Hiroshima Prefecture. They have much to contribute to Japanese society, both culturally and economically. But that potential will go untapped in the absence of a concerted effort to develop our language-education infrastructure. Through flexible partnerships with municipalities and nonprofits, the government must actively support language and social-integration programs tailored to the needs of individual communities and fulfill its responsibility to “leave no one behind.”

Source: A Crying Need for Japanese-Language Instruction Among Immigrants

From Indians to Chinese, Singapore feels the strain of immigration

Tensions in Singapore’s carefully managed multiculturalism:
When a Singaporean man was caught on camera in October yelling vulgarities at a security guard outside his apartment building, telling the hapless worker he had paid S$1.5 million (US$1.1 million) for the place and should not have to fork out extra for guest parking, the video of the exchange soon went viral.

Singaporeans on social media quickly identified the man, assumed he was an Indian expatriate, and told him to “go home” and not bring his country’s caste system to the city state.

Internet users also soon latched on to the topic of the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA), a free-trade deal signed in 2005 between India and Singapore. They claimed the deal gave Indian nationals a free pass to work in the Lion City, as online vigilantes doxxed the man and called on his employer to axe him, claiming his qualifications had been falsified.

Days after the video went viral, hundreds of demonstrators turned up at a rally protesting against CECA and Singapore’s population growth. This public anger was reminiscent of that seen in 2013 when the government issued a projection that Singapore’s population could hit 6.9 million by 2030. The number currently stands at 5.7 million, roughly 1.7 million of whom are foreigners.

Over the past month, the authorities have attempted to quell the disquiet by making multiple clarifications about the case. The man, Ramesh Erramalli, was born in India but is a naturalised Singaporean with a Singaporean wife. His education certificates were real, CECA did not make it easy for Indians to gain entry to the country for work, nor would any free-trade agreement, the government said.

The display of xenophobia is not new to Singapore. “Foreigners” – from mainland Chinese to Filipinos – have been blamed for a range of problems, including overcrowding on public transport and unemployment.

Source: From Indians to Chinese, Singapore feels the strain of immigration

Immigrants’ occupational segregation in France: “brown-collar” jobs or a Sub-Saharan African disadvantage?

Unfortunately behind a paywall but looks interesting:

Large-scale labour migration is considered a recent phenomenon in most European countries; however, immigrants have been an integral part of the French labour-force nearly as long as in the United States. Numerous studies document Sub-Saharan African immigrants’ employment and wage disadvantages in France; however, few investigate an important aspect of Sub-Saharan African immigrants’ integration – occupational segregation. Using 2011 French census data, I examine Sub-Saharan African immigrants’ occupational segregation. I find that all immigrants are concentrated, but only Sub-Saharan Africans are concentrated in low-skilled work regardless of citizenship. Department-level regression analyses measuring occupational segregation show that after controlling for socioeconomic characteristics, Sub-Saharan Africans are most segregated. Control variables explain less of Sub-Saharan African women’s segregation than any other group indicating that they experience more discrimination in the labour market than even Sub-Saharan African men. Future research using longitudinal data is needed to determine if these results reflect a persistent disadvantage.

Source: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/01419870.2019.1686162?journalCode=rers20

Study: Diversity is Shaping Pet Owner Population

Part of integration may be getting a pet:

Pets live in 67 million U.S. households, a statistic that is being driven by the increase in multicultural pet owners, according to a new report by market research firm Packaged Facts. Compared to a decade ago, pet owners are now more likely to be a member of a multicultural population segment, 28 percent in 2018 versus 22 percent in 2008, the report further noted.

“Between 2008 and 2018 the increase in the number of Hispanic, African American, Asian and other multicultural pet owners was five times higher than the increase in the number of non-Hispanic white pet owners,” said David Sprinkle, research director of Packaged Facts, which is headquartered in Rockville, Md.

Pet Population and Ownership Trends in the U.S: Dogs, Cats and Other Pets, 3rd Edition also revealed the following findings:

  • The number of Latinos owning pets increased 44 percent from 15 million in 2008 to 22 million in 2018, a growth rate vastly greater than that experienced among non-Hispanic white pet owners, according to the researchers.
  • Although a much smaller population, the number of Asian pet owners grew at the same rate (45 percent), between 2008 and 2018.
  • During the same period, the number of African American pet owners increased 24 percent.

The impact of Latinos on dog or cat ownership has been especially pronounced, the researchers also noted. Over the past decade, the number of Hispanic dog owners increased 59 percent. Likewise, the number of Latino cat owners increased 50 percent.

Overall, the report found that out of the more than half (54 percent) of American households that have a pet, dogs and cats are the most popular, coming in at 39 percent and 24 percent, respectively. One in eight households has other pets, including fish, birds, reptiles or small animals such as rabbits, hamsters or gerbils.

Source: Study: Diversity is Shaping Pet Owner Population