Guest Workers in Europe (Chapter 4)       Return to Unit List

On page 201, your textbook states that many immigrants come to Europe as "guest workers," invited to meet labor shortages. Guest worker programs are set up by countries in which immigrants are granted temporary work licenses or visas. The United States has had similar programs in the past (i.e. the Bracero Program), and, as indicated in the unit on the Politics of Immigration in the United States and Mexico (Chapters 2 and 3), a new guest worker program has been proposed by President George W. Bush for Mexican immigrants into the United States. While many Europeans expect guest workers to stay for a short time and return to their homes, many immigrants come with the intention of staying. This difference in expectations between Europeans and foreign guest workers often results in significant political debates over immigration. (We have already encountered one instance of this debate in the United States, in the case of Iowa's consideration of immigration as a strategy to address increasing labor shortages in rural areas of the state.)

Visit CNN's interactive site on European immigration, which offers a variety of resources for looking further into the "guest worker" issue, as well as many other immigration challenges faced by Europe.

First of all, explore the interactive maps and graphics in "Immigration by the numbers." You can examine major migration routes into Europe, as well as the immigration profile of major European countries.

You can also follow the stories of individual migrants, such as those journeying from Africa, across the Sahara Desert and into Europe ("Exodus from Africa"), or that of an Iraqi Kurd who makes his way illegally into England where he is granted asylum ("An immigrant's journey").

This site also features "pro" and "con" statements by two scholars, Saskia Sassen and Stephen Dearden. After reading their statements, consider the following questions:

To delve deeper into the case of one particular country's experience with immigration, read Professor Philip Martin's (University of California, Davis) essay, "Germany: reluctant land of immigration"
Germany has had a guest worker program for over 40 years now. Read this BBC report from Berlin in which numerous guest workers comment on their experiences and their expectations of the future.