The DGB and the church organizations also see other potential consequences of the new child-allowance policy. Maier of the DGB says, “If guest workers start bringing their children to the Federal Republic in greater numbers to receive the full child-benefit payment, then we’ll be faced with totally new social problems.” At the Diakonisches Werk in Stuttgart people also believe that the related costs for new apartments, kindergartens, after-school care, schools, and similar facilities will ultimately be higher than the amount the federal government wanted to save by instituting differentials in child-benefit payments.
Less Liberal Provisions?
Already, about 70,000 resident children of guest workers make an annual descent upon the German labor market after completing school, and apprenticeships – already scarce – are becoming even scarcer by the year. The situation, according to the DGB, will get even worse in the future. If all the Turks presently living in Germany were to bring over all of their children, this alone would cause their ethnic group to grow by about half a million. Because children up to sixteen years of age do not require a residence permit, German authorities are not really in a position to prevent these family reunions. José Moll, editor of Spanish-language programming for foreigners at Bavarian Broadcasting [Bayerischer Rundfunk], is concerned that, given this prognosis, the federal government might very well see the need to drastically restrict what has thus far been a quite liberal policy on family reunions, and that this could lead to new social problems.
The final consequence of the new child-allowance policy: family reunions will undermine the foreign-worker recruitment ban that has been in place for a year, because the labor market will be flooded not only by young people but also by their accompanying mothers. DGB subject specialist Maier fears that these family latecomers “will accept illegal employment” if they fail to find proper work. Maier is even more pessimistic about the prospects of the unemployed sons and daughters of guest workers: “Under certain circumstances they could form a criminal pool.”
Nonetheless, people in the federal labor ministry “are convinced that people are just stirred up right now and that emotions are being aroused that won’t be followed by actions.” Of course, lawyer Herbert Becher, bishops’ advisor for the Catholic Church, has already hinted that the German Federal Constitutional Court should rule on the new child-allowance regulation if it is ratified by the parliaments in Bonn and the guest workers’ countries of origin.
Source: Christian Schneider, “Eine Invasion von Gastarbeiterkindern? Eine Einsparung, die teuer werden kann” [“An Invasion of Guest-Worker Children? Savings that Can Get Expensive”], Süddeutsche Zeitung, November 8, 1974.
Translation: Allison Brown