Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Marriage, Integration, and Immigration Policy —Modern Bureaucracy Reflecting the Worst

Marriage, Integration, and Immigration Policy —Modern Bureaucracy Reflecting the Worst

By Kevin Stoda, Germany

In an era of big and bigger governance and at a time when companies, especially financial institutions, need to be managed better, the position of bureaucracy and managing-management are ever more seen as more important than ever when trying to comprehend how modern society currently functions.

Due to this shift or growth in many branches of government over the past decade, even the Republican Party in the USA is now seen as a big spender and friend to bureaucratic growth.


Traditionally modern rhetoric in the media and in the political landscape have primarily looked down in disdain at overblown management (and over-management) sectors or at ballooning bureaucracies and their machinery (or chicaner), which have appeared over the past decades to have grown like weeds on a Kansas landscape during rainy season.


Interestingly, this growing fascination with growing organization and bureaucratic power has occurred at a time when firms and companies have received and demanded ever more hands-often governance.

On the one hand, at the same time many firms and corporate leaders have made careers out of trying to make companies lean and tough—often by laying people off (i.e. putting them on the government payroll).


Similarly, politicians have made their own careers by bashing bureaucracy. However, in actuality, most, like the now infamous former U.S. President, George W. Bush, actually have grown bureaucracies faster than any of their predecessors.


In the midst of this phenomena, management and organizational theorists have suddenly once again grown to defend bureaucracy in the old school vain, which Max Weber made famous over a century ago.

These sage evaluators of business and governance say that the common good is often better managed than simply left to nature or to the so-called free market.


On the other hand, there are still certainly authors who criticize the growth in governments as having the tendency to create a negative relationship to the proper and fair functioning of (1) national constitutions and (2) human- and international relationships in general.


Let’s look at the role of marriage and international marriages and see how bureaucracy often does not work towards the public good, especially in a nation state like Germany --which actually is embedded quite firmly in a greater union or marriage to the European Union membership (and evolving treaties, i.e. treaties which are acting as constitutions currently).


Why is marriage in Germany today a good example of lack of attention of bureaucrats to the common good?

First of all, the father of all bureaucratic studies is Max Weber, a German Sociologist and theorist from the 19th century.

Second, up till this very era, within the European Union there have been many different lands with their own laws on marriage contracts--and the right to have a spouse--or the right to even bring one’s spouse across international borders.

Third, Germany , being itself a federal state consists of various lands and cities ( or layers of governance like in the USA ), also recognizes the role of cities and counties (called Bezirk or Landeskreis) to undertake the approval of marriage licenses and to allow for the integration of settlers from across Europe and beyond.

For example, final approval for a family visa in my city is undertaken at the Integration Office of the city where I live—and not at some larger bureaucratic center further up the levels of federal government hierarchies.

In short, Germany is the perfect place to discover how out-of–control and mismanaged local governance (combined with national & international arms of bureaucracy) can be in the way they destroy—and overburden-- families and unduly inhibit marriage- and settlement of married partners across borders.


My first example of bureaucracy run-amok stems from the marriage of a German and American couple last autumn in Baden-Württemberg.

The American bride-to-be had actually grown up most of her life in Belgium but she had kept her American citizenship. This was her second marriage. Her first had been to a local Belgian. So, most all official paperwork of hers was in Belgium .

As the wedding date in September 2008 drew near, the local government near Karlsruhe , Germany was continuing to ask for more and more paperwork.

Every time, the Belgium government provided the paperwork for the women promptly. She brought over the border to Germany .

These successive and growing demands for more paperwork by a local mayor’s office in Germany were sent back to Belgium with the bride-to-be.

Again, the courthouse in Belgium promptly provided papers for each new request from the German side.

This dismaying process went on throughout the summer of 2008.

The couples big church wedding in Germany was drawing near and the couple was extremely worried.

So, what did the American and German couple do?

At the end of August 2008, this couple flew to Denmark and had a civil wedding done there. This took less than a week.

The couple returned to Southwest German and held their church wedding as scheduled in early September 2008.


Well, since I met that American and German couple in February this year, I have learned that it is quite common for people in central Europe to travel to Denmark because the bureaucracy for marriage is much more endurable there.


One online advertisement for weeding assistance in Denmark notes that “getting married in Denmark is quicker than in Las Vegas ”.


I doubt that, but perhaps the advert is true if one considers the time it takes to fly to Las Vegas and back from Germany .

All I know is that bureaucracy and the power of a single government bureaucrat in Germany remains a bit like it was in the Middle Ages—byzantine and monarchal.

Likewise European law up-till-last year was so non-aligned across the continent that for example, one Portuguese man (i.e. a citizen of an EU land) who married a woman from Brazil ( a non-EU land) was allowed to bring his wife along to live in Germany (with no German visa required) when he decided to move to Germany to work (from his original place of residence in Lisbon).

Meanwhile, a German man (i.e. a German and an EU citizen) , who, married a woman from Namibia, was still not able to bring his wife directly to live in Germany (his homeland) without getting a visa for his wife first

Believe me! Getting a visa for one’s wife is quite difficult—even for Germans. I’ve talked to quite a few mixed national couples about the process.

NOTE: I myself have been trying for several months to bring my own wife over from Kuwait to Germany . (So you can bet the bureaucracy is still harder on me and my bride.)


I am hoping that there will be changes or reforms in the German system soon.

I have already read in a legal journal that recently there have been some bureaucratic alignments made across the EU (including Germany ) in the area of visa regulations for EU citizens and their spouses in late 2008 and early 2009.

However, the fact remains that Germany is just an example of how governments and bureaucracies around the globe fail to look after not only the greater good of their own citizens but fail to encourage common good amongst citizens of other nations at a time when tolerance and integration across race, religion, and nationality are supposed to be being promoted.

This need for more tolerance and fairness in awarding marriage licenses and in providing access to visas for spouses is particularly aggravating the situation in the majority of EU nations where population growth is around 1.5 per couple on average.

The situation in Germany appears to be particularly dire because (in 2008) for the first time in many decades, less foreigners have moved to live in Germany than the year before.

Already in the German state of Hessen, where I live, up to 1/3 of the children under 16 are from at least one parent who was born in other nations.

This means that by themselves the Germans are not keeping up demographically and their unhelpful bureaucracy of integration and marriage are keeping the incoming and integrating populations lower than they need to be.


To be fair, Germany is definitely not the only country in Europe or the world that has such a Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde approach to marriage and integration of international couples.

Similarly, I have met numerous Americans who have married someone from abroad, especially USA servicemen.

From these American couples, I have heard horror tales of them spending several months to years with their spouses hanging out in the Philippines and in other corners of the globe before they were finally allowed to bring their wives across borders to the USA .

I bring this up because I married a beautiful Filipina myself this past year.

The USA Consulate in Frankfurt has since notified me that it refuses to help process any visas for non-Americans in Germany until these non-Americans have lived in Germany for at least 6 months.

That means that even while I am still currently waiting in Germany for the German leadership at the Integration Office in Wiesbaden, Hessen to process my wife’s visa to come and join me at work in Germany (from Kuwait) , I will have to expect to wait automatically six more months after my wife’s visa approval and arrival in German occurs before I can go to apply at the Consulate in Frankfurt to get a visa to go to the states and visit my family (while accompanied by my bride).

Don’t forget America !

Eight years ago, there was no such mammoth bureaucracy like the Department of homeland Security existing on the planet.

Now it is the largest and most out-of-control part of the American Bureaucracy.

Meanwhile, Germany and other countries will copy its every paperwork and delaying tactics. This sort of copying is called alignment or realignment of bureaucratic procedure.

Now this monster bureaucracy, the Department of Homeland Security, even controls (my) our own spouses´ destiny.

AMERICA AND THE WORLD need to rethink their growing love of bureaucracy.



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