This is how the Liberal leader defends his support for the Human Rights Service

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The government’s support for the Human Rights Service is justified by integration. Integration Minister Guri Melby flatly rejects that the organization contributes anything positive.

Minister of Education and Integration Guri Melby (V) opens up for more crisis packages aimed at integration. Photo: Martin Slottemo Lyngstad (archive photo)

Guri Melby is not just the Liberal Party leader and Minister of Education. She is also the government’s integration minister. Aftenposten interviews her as the last.

The backdrop is an explosive rise in unemployment among immigrants as a result of the corona pandemic. The Minister for Integration calls it extreme.

– It is quite classic that jobs with low competence requirements come first, and then very many with an immigrant background are first in line.

Melby’s solution is better and more adapted to teaching.

This is how she defends HRS support

The interview will be about the large sums and the long lines, but as usual 1.8 million escape the attention.

Aftenposten asks about the government’s million support for the Human Rights Service (HRS).

The support is provided from the Ministry of Justice’s budget. However, it is justified on the grounds that it should contribute to better knowledge about immigration and integration in the population.

The controversial organization runs the Islam-critical blog Rights.no.

“There is not a single individual in the Liberal Party anywhere in the whole country who believes that the Human Rights Service should receive money. Neither before, now nor later “, Abid Raja told Aftenposten last year. Raja has now been elected deputy leader of the Liberal Party.

One year later, the FRP is out of government. The support is still in the government’s recent budget proposal for 2021.

Why?

Melby points out that the support will be continued as a result of an agreement the four bourgeois parties entered into in December 2018. At that time, the FRP negotiated the support into the budget in exchange for the Liberal Party receiving 16.7 million for several organizations.

– The amount we spend on volunteering in the integration is very large, it is 153.7 million kroner now, Melby says.

When the agreement was presented after demanding budget rounds in 2018, there was no question of it being valid for several years.

– There is no doubt that using civil society as an active participant in the integration work is very important. So I do not think that HRS contributes anything positive to it at all. It is a case we have accepted, but do not rejoice for.

Would it not have been easier for the Liberal Party if the support came in after negotiations in the Storting with Frp?

– Tactically speaking, it had it. But the sum could then perhaps have been even greater. And the reality would be exactly the same. For my part, the money for volunteering over the integration budget is much more important than the 1.8 million that goes to HRS.

Explosive unemployment among immigrants

HRS rarely spreads good news about integration.

But for many years it has actually gone the right way. Slowly but surely, the proportion of immigrants at work has increased.

Then the coronavirus came to Norway. Unemployment skyrocketed. Immigrants are hardest hit. It emerges from the latest, gloomy unemployment figures published by Statistics Norway:

13.7 percent of the immigrants were out of work in the second quarter of this year. The corresponding figure for the general population was 4.9 per cent.

In one year, unemployment among immigrants has thus increased by 8.5 percentage points, compared with 3.4 percentage points among the general population.

In the budget proposal, the immigrants’ vulnerable position in the job market is explained by a lack of formal education, weak Norwegian skills and short seniority in working life.

This becomes especially a problem when there is a tighter labor market as a result of the pandemic.

Suggests less for integration next year

Still: The proposed integration budget for 2021 is NOK 9.1 billion – a decrease of 20 percent from the previous year.

The decline is mainly due to the fact that there are fewer refugees to settle for the municipalities. At the same time, the government has reduced the subsidies the municipalities receive for settling them.

Melby would rather talk about the political measures she takes in the budget. She figures these at around 130 million (see facts).

Among this year’s innovations is 25 million to try out a scrap card scheme for immigrants who need extra Norwegian language training. This is a scheme outside the required introductory program.

The idea is that immigrants who need it will get coupons or cut cards to buy Norwegian courses from private providers.

– We need a greater breadth of offers than what exists today.

– If the integration policy works, it is probably very profitable for society to invest in it. Why are you spending 25 million on this and not 250 million?

– It may well be the case. But we think it’s a good idea to try a little first, to see if it has a good effect before we roll it out. But the idea has the potential to become much bigger.

– Crisis measures have already been initiated

Aftenposten asks the question more generally: Why does the violent unemployment among immigrants not trigger greater grip on the 2021 budget?

The Liberal leader reminds of the integration crisis package of 456 million. It was adopted when the 2020 budget was revised this spring. Among other things, the period for refugees and immigrants to receive Norwegian and social studies education was extended by six months.

– So we have already started the crisis measures.

– Are you not afraid that the high unemployment among immigrants will settle?

– Yes, and that is why we focus hard on competence. Many immigrants have low formal competence and therefore a loose connection to working life.

– But there is no need for greater grip on the 2021 budget than 130 million?

– We have not considered it that way. For the measures we did in the revision, will also have an effect into 2021. If we see that there is a need for more, then the government has not said that there will be no new crisis packages.

Melby does not think there is much to be gained from spending more money.

– Because we also have to ensure quality. And that is what we are doing with the integration law now. This is actually a major reform of the school offer we provide to people with an immigrant background. The most important thing for the effect is not how much money you put into one project, the important thing is the long-term investments over time.

Will make stricter demands

This week, the government’s proposal for a new integration law was discussed in the Storting.

The law regulates the rights and obligations of newly arrived refugees and immigrants, including what kind of Norwegian and social studies education they are to receive.

The goal is for this teaching to be better adapted to the individual.

Refugees are both illiterate and highly educated academics. Melby wants to discriminate more and make stricter demands.

Among other things, the Government will legislate that those who teach Norwegian in accordance with the Integration Act must have relevant professional and pedagogical competence. This must correspond to 30 credits in the subject Norwegian as a second language.

At the same time, it must be legislated that refugees must achieve a minimum level in Norwegian.

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