Immigration and multiculturalism in Slovenia and Canada.

This week in the Wall Street Journal a small article appeared regarding the new immigration policies the EU parliament is voting on at the moment:
[They] recommend that illegal aliens be held no more than 18 months before deportation, [. . .] prohibiting the expulsion or detention of unaccompanied children and granting those suffering from a serious illness a residence permit giving them access to medical care.
Although these laws are already in place in most individual nations, a comprehensive set of immigration laws that apply to the EU as a whole is still being crafted among parliamentarians.
Also this week a front page article in the Globe and Mail featured a group of Quebec government office workers issuing a complaint about political correctness allegedly blocking meaningful discussions on whether or not religion has a place in the public sphere. In Quebec (and the rest of Canada), public offices are deemed secular. This has caused some tensions among the workers. For example, Christian employees cannot openly display Christmas decorations, but a Muslim employee washes her feet in a sink used by the rest of the staff prior to her daily prayers. The same old argument is trotted out: if immigrants are to live in Canada, then they must abide by Canadian cultural norms. If Canadian citizens visit another county, they must observe the local customs, right?

I can tell you from experience that this is not the case. I'm a Canadian living abroad, yet I openly speak English, eat food that approximates "Canadian cuisine" and I don't always practice the local customs. However, I learned to take my shoes off and slip on a pair of copati when I visit another home and I try to start most conversations in Slovene. Living abroad is a balancing act. Immigrants cannot simply toss aside their ethnicity - that would be impossible - but newcomers (and visitors like me) have to somehow relate to their new home. In order to adapt to their host country, a degree of compromise is required.

In Canada, there are three dominant culture groups: Anglophone Canadians, Francophone Canadians and First Nations. These groups are large simply because they've been residing in Canada the longest. Other ethnic groups either came along shortly after the French and English arrived or only began immigrating to Canada recently. Canadian society is based on a multicultural "mosaic," a patchwork of different ethnic groups residing together yet retaining their cultural identities.

Given that the EU is now seriously discussing immigration, and that tensions arise between ethnic groups in Canada, what does that mean for Slovenia? Although there are some ethnic minorities here, such as Croats, Bosnians, Italians and Roma, how would an otherwise homogeneous society manage a possible influx of immigrants? Does Slovenia have trouble with illegal immigration? Am I wrong in assuming Slovenia is a homogeneous society?

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