The pandemic is increasing the integration difficulties of immigrants

The pandemic is increasing the integration difficulties of immigrants

Inmigración | Dr. Joseba Achotegui

The great crisis that the Covid 19 pandemic is causing involves a whole series of changes in our society, many of them problematic. One of the areas in which, in my opinion, this change has been noticed is in the situation of immigrants and in this article I want to refer to a very relevant aspect that is going unnoticed: the difficulties for the integration of immigrants have greatly increased immigrants in the host society.

We have been able to observe in the consultations attending to immigrants that the situation created by the pandemic has led to them feeling isolated, with little personal and affective contact with the host society, which significantly hinders integration processes: confinement, closed common spaces, the increase in difficulties in the area of ​​housing, work, social protection, together with the strict recommendations of the so-called “social distance”, … all this has ended up turning this distance in many cases into a moat of separation with severe consequences for integration.

The immigrant often starts almost from scratch in intercultural integration and needs, as the air, contact, day-to-day life, coexistence, personal relationships and personal knowledge with the natives, which is the best vaccine against prejudice, the insidious topics towards immigrants. Sharing side by side is the best cement of integration.

The situation we are experiencing is very complicated, but that cannot be an excuse to lower our guard on something as crucial as that immigrants are part of the host society in intercultural integration if we do not want to be forced into an unstructured society, fragmented.

An unambiguous expression of this greater distance, of these integration difficulties, is the increase in the number of immigrants that we see in consultations that need interpreters because they barely speak a few words of the host country’s language or languages, something that was previously more exceptional: who more who less soon let loose with the tongue and made themselves understood. There is no more effective method to learn a language than to use it in personal, social and work communication, but all that is very much today. Social distance (I would prefer to call it another way), one of the critical elements in the fight against the pandemic, has a collateral effect on these substantial integration difficulties.

Thus, it is essential to be aware of the new realities that this Covid 19 crisis brings us and try to stop to drift towards the fragmentation of our society that would have hazardous consequences.