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Friday, July 23, 2004

IHT > 'Fortress Europe' keeps doors barred'

'Fortress Europe' keeps doors barred
Katrin Bennhold/IHT International Herald Tribune Friday, July 23, 2004
But resisting immigrants has a price

AACHEN, Germany When Hari- anto Wijaya received Germany's first green card in August 2000 and found himself paraded across the country as a symbol of the government's commitment to relaxing its immigration policy, the 29-year-old Indonesian computer programmer was confident he would get permanent residency within a year or two.

Four years later - and two weeks after the German legislature passed a watered-down version of the immigration law - Wijaya's patience has run out.

Wijaya, whose green card is proudly exhibited in a history museum in Bonn, this week took the exams he hopes will get him a place in a French or U.S. business school.

"The green card is a good story for my grandchildren, but it didn't really help professionally," he said, sipping lemonade in the technology center in this city in western Germany, where he used to work for a wireless start-up called Aixcom. "I just can't see myself getting the permanent residency. And I don't want to find myself escorted off to the airport one day" - as happened to a fellow university student whose permit had expired.

Wijaya's tale reflects a paradox haunting all of Europe: the Continent is aging and in dire need of replenishing its pool of labor, but the political will to open the borders of Fortress Europe remains half-hearted.

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