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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Sociology Scholar and Immigration Consultant Visits UMass Boston

Dr. Tamar Zurabishvili

Last Wednesday, on March 1, the Sociology Department welcomed Dr. Tamar Zurabishvili. Zurabishvili is a scholar of sociology who has published numerous works and has participated in conferences internationally as a consultant for the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

In the Sociology Conference Room of the Wheatley building, Zurabishvili presented a paper that she recently published, stating her concern for the lack of “immigration integration” in Georgia. Zurabishvili stated that although Georgia may be considered hospitable, there is a population in the state that projects “high level of intolerance towards immigrants, indicating at xenophobia and cultural racism.”

Zurabishvili’s presentation was titled, “Developing Immigrant Integration Policies in Georgia: Towards Inclusion or Exclusion?”

Now with a population of 3.7 million people, Georgia started to attract immigrants during the early 2000s, after the modern Georgian republic exhibited its support for a “liberal immigration regime.” According to Zurabishvili, immigration in Georgia is a relatively new phenomenon, and is currently in a “nascent stage.”

Zurabishvili acknowledged two Georgian immigration policies during the presentation. One was “The Law of Georgia on the Legal Status of Aliens and Stateless Persons,” which was established in 2014. The second was “The Law of Georgia on Labor Migration,” which was established in 2015. Zurabishvili stated that although these laws have been put into the legislation, the country is still facing major challenges to its immigration policy.

It was stated during the presentation that a large percent of the immigrants moving into Georgia are international students. According to Zurabishvili, most students immigrate to Georgia from Russia, India, Turkey, Israel, and Pakistan. When a student from the audience asked why this was the case, Zurabishvili explained that a lot of these students were moving to receive an education. A large percent of these students move to Georgia for medical and business schools, and sometimes to pursue degrees in the social sciences.

According to data provided by Zurabishvili, enrollments in Georgian schools have been steadily increasing since 2004. In 2014, according to the data, Georgia accepted the highest number of immigrants yet, approving over 2,500 immigrant students’ applications. Zurabishvili stated that even the hospitable public schools in Georgia don’t have the necessary facilities to “integrate foreign speakers in the classroom.”

Zurabishvili added that usually foreigners are “forced to use private services instead of state ones.” Because of this, Dr. Zurabishvili stated that there is a lack of “assimilation, integration, and incorporation.”
Zurabishvili’s visit ended with questions from the audience. One student from the audience asked what kind of policies would be required for immigration integration if “integration is questionable.”
Zurabishvili stated that immigration integration policies should consider “the needs of immigrant groups and their receiving communities.” This means providing language courses to immigrant students, as well as “housing and job assistance.”