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Like Missouri and the U.S., Germany Struggles with Immigration Issues

This past legislative session, Missouri lawmakers passed a bill designed to crack down on illegal immigrants. This fall, Missouri voters will decide whether to make English the language for official proceedings in the state. Many supporters of these measures say they're concerned with illegal immigrants and welcome those who come to the U.S. through legal channels. But even those who come to the US legally face challenges with integrating into society and learning the language. Germany is dealing with a similar problem. KSMU's Missy Shelton reports from Berlin.

(Missy Shelton is reporting from Europe through a journalism fellowship funded by the RIAS Berlin Kommission, a non-partisan, bi-national organization dedicated to the promotion of German-American understanding in the field of broadcasting.)

As you walk through the front door of the Berlin restaurant Mercan, the aroma of simmering meat and vegetable dishes is an invitation to experience authentic Turkish cuisine. It's here that Bilkay Oney, a member of the Berlin State Parliament discusses the challenges facing Turkish migrants who come to Germany legally. She says it's critical that migrants learn the German language.

Turks first came to Germany in significant numbers as guest workers in the 1960's and 70's. Their numbers have grown and there are now more than 2 million Turks living in Germany. Oney, who is a Turkish migrant herself says language is a major problem for many of them.

Oney says she opposes a recent order that took effect without legislative approval that forces those wishing to become naturalized citizens to take a standardized test. Supporters of the test say it will ensure that people who want to become naturalized citizens have basic knowledge about Germany. But Oney says this test is much broader than that.

Oney says Germany needs to be more practical in its approach to integrating migrants into society.