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Saxon State Minister for Economic Affairs, Labor, and Transport Martin Dulig recently said that Germany’s new immigration law would attract skilled Indian immigrants who would help Germany plug its labor shortages. As the Hindu reported, Saxony currently needs four million skilled workers, particularly mechanical engineers for its formidable automobile industry.

The minister was referring to a new German immigration law that took effect late last year, Euronews explained. The law could draw as many as 60,000 non-European workers to Germany annually.

“We know that we can only guarantee our future, the efficiency of our economy and the efficiency of our social security systems if we have enough skilled workers at our disposal,” said Chancellor Olaf Scholz, a socialist who oversees a coalition of green and liberal parliamentarians.

The immigration law was one example of a shift in attitudes toward migrants in Germany, which saw more than a million people arrive beginning in 2015 during the so-called migrant crisis.

German lawmakers, for example, recently enacted a new law to make it easier for foreigners to retain their citizenship but still become German citizens, the Local wrote. Germany has also pioneered the use of digital payment cards to provide migrants with modest cash benefits while cutting down on administrative overheads, added Deutsche Welle.

These changes have fueled the popularity of far-right parties in Germany, but many Germans have also stood up to refute their fellow citizens’ xenophobic views, argued Boise State University political scientist Julie VanDusky in the Conversation.

Meanwhile, over the border, reflecting a wider trend throughout Europe, as Euractiv noted, France appears to be hardening its stance against migrants and newcomers.

French lawmakers recently adopted an immigration law that Human Rights Watch described as “regressive,” claiming that it allowed authorities to more easily deport migrants, make asylum more difficult to achieve, cut off access to benefits, and empower officials to more easily rescind residency permits. Courts struck down many of the law’s measures on constitutional grounds, but many parts remained, France24 added.

French officials, for instance, used the law recently to expel an allegedly radical imam who said France’s tricolor flag was “satanic,” remarks that officials deemed “unacceptable,” the BBC reported. The imam denied the allegations and said he did not mean to disrespect France.

Politicians on the French far-right, meanwhile, have announced that European Parliamentary elections in June will be equivalent to a referendum on immigration, Reuters reported. In a move that critics said was the government caving to the far right, the French government planned on denying citizenship to children of immigrants in Mayotte, a French territory in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Africa, Al Jazeera wrote.

Mayotte is one of the poorest departments of France, noted Bloomberg. The decision to end birthright citizenship comes after weeks of protests in Mayotte, which has seen the deterioration of living conditions blamed on immigration from the impoverished Comoros islands nearby.

Mayotte residents say the arrival of immigrants has put health, housing and education services under pressure. The new measure will cut off access to benefits and make Mayotte a less attractive destination, officials said.

Meanwhile, critics say it sets a dangerous precedent for mainland France. Centrist lawmaker Aurelien Tache told local media that “if this provision is enacted and if Marine Le Pen then comes to power, it will be the end of birthright citizenship in France.”

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