Getting On: From Migration to Integration - Chinese, Indian, Lithuanian and Nigerian Migrants' Experiences in Ireland
Feldman, Alice and Gilmartin, Mary and Loyal, Steven and Migge, Bettina (2008) Getting On: From Migration to Integration - Chinese, Indian, Lithuanian and Nigerian Migrants' Experiences in Ireland. Immigrant Council of Ireland, Dublin. ISBN: 978-0-9545496-7-1.
Until very recently, debate about immigration policies in Ireland has focussed on questions of who, how many and what kinds of migrants can come. In Ireland, we are now seeing a shift in the discussion to concerns about how people can ‘integrate’ into an increasingly diverse Irish society. We are beginning to consider what our integration policies and framework should focus on. We are starting to realise that, when immigrants settle in a country, they have to find opportunities to ‘belong’ and participate in that country. We realise that this is as true in the practical sense (for example, in relation to employment) as in the social, political, and cultural sense. The Immigrant Council of Ireland (ICI) has been working directly with migrants in accessing their social and legal rights since our inception. Through our work, we see the barriers that migrants face in relation to economic, social, political and cultural integration in Ireland. We see on a daily basis how our immigration system can assist or prevent a migrant’s capacity to integrate or participate in Irish society at varying levels. Last year, 10,000 migrants sought information and support from the ICI. They shared experiences of problems and challenges, arising through navigating Ireland’s immigration system. Their experiences show how access to secure residency, access to family life, adequate healthcare, housing, education and employment are so often linked to one’s immigration status. Their stories demonstrate how all of these factors can act as barriers or facilitators of integration. The Irish Government is presently developing an ‘integration strategy’ for immigrants. It is in this context that the ICI wanted to further explore issues that arise through our services and work in supporting migrant communities. The ICI commissioned this study to further document the immigration and integration experiences of four nationalities, working with members of the Chinese, Indian, Lithuanian and Nigerian communities. We wanted to explore how the immigration experience of the research participants influenced their integration experience. We wanted to look at key indicators for measuring integration internationally and how these could be adapted to the Irish context. We wanted to investigate how these proposed indicators could be measured against the experiences of these key migrant communities living and contributing to Irish society. In this report, Chinese, Indian, Lithuanian and Nigerian nationals tell their migration stories. We see clearly how their migration experiences and outcomes influence their integration experiences in Irish society. Whilst the stories are different, there are common threads throughout, highlighting key considerations for us in this work in the future. For all of us, the test of the success of Ireland’s developing migration system and integration framework will be our cohesiveness as a society, with opportunity for full participation and equal outcomes for all its members. This is the right moment for Ireland to develop comprehensive integration policies and procedures to ensure that the positive migration experience is sustained. Although as a society we are new to the migration experience, we can benefit from promising practices in countries with a history of migration. To be successful in our integration policies, we must ensure that we take a holistic approach and consider the impact of related immigration and social policies. The ICI would like to thank the Migration and Citizenship Research Initiative’s researchers, the postgraduate researchers, and the community researchers for their work, and the participants who shared their experiences. In conclusion, we invite the Minister for Integration and the Office of the Minister for Integration to consider the findings and recommendations as they develop an integration framework for Ireland.
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