France – The new immigration law

An interview with Claire Rodier, Gisti

Question: French immigration law reminds of Bossi-Fini law, which probably is the worst law in Europe, since it completely cancels migrant citizens rights. Which are the most troubled points in the new French law?

Answer: There are many troubled points, one of the most important is the reduction in forigners rights, especially migrants who have regularly living in France. The Parliament has applied a principle to anyone form 1984 on, this is to say: all citizens having lived in France for at least ten years have stable residence cards issued. This new law, the first time ever, turns this principle upside down. Residence cards won’t anymore be issued to anyone but integration will be the condition to th erelease of papers. This trend holds strong symbolic significance: today “proves” must be shown in order to regularly live in france. But foreigners keep proving their integration everyday by working, by paying taxations, enriching the country.
Renewals will need to respect this “integration condition”. The loss of papers may easily occur now. Family rejoining will be more difficult, past law in fact provided for that all children rejoining their family were to be released stable ten years long cards (which did hold some restrictions and conditions to be respected). Today children rejoing their families will have a one year long permit, that can be turn into a stable permit only if the “integration condition” is respected. This is the most problematic part of the law. the government seems to be willing to unroot migrants from France.
There are also worrying instructions, for instance detention times before expulsion are longer (32 days instead of 12). There are to be more controls and evaluations of visas and hospitality declarations (all the ones who host foreigners are to be listed), fingerprints are to be taken.
Our society has moved to a police society and migrants are the ones who will suffer the most because of it but French society is to see consequences as well.This law is repressive, it destroys rights, integration and spreads suspicion out.
This law is to be followed by another on on asylum (which is to be enacted in a month, the same are the principles of this new law: asylum seekers are to be listed so that expulsions are easier.

Q: What about expulsions?

A: this is another questionable point. The minister of interior (Sarzosky) is very proud because he abolished the double punishment, this is to say that foreigners used to be detained and then expelled, to the migrants citizens, who have lived in France for at least ten years. But unfortunately the most could be detained and then expelled. The new law also quickens expulsion proceedings.

Q: What about detention centre?

A: There are many detention centres in France. There are about 100 detention centres through out the country, but there are also places where migrants usually arrive, those are rooms where people are kept when stopped at their arrival in French territory. The most important one is at Roissy-Charles De Gaulle airport, 300/400 can be there detained.
Anyway there are 50 detention centres actually working. Detentions here are shorter compared to others EU states, but there are many migrants detained in house of detentions (up to 3/4 of the whole). These people are there because of minor crimes or because stopped with no papers nor documents.

Q: How did people react to this new law?

A: Mobilizations and campaigns are very weak. Law has just been approved of but it tookthe government eight months to enforce it. I think actual French government is weakening society, Raffarin cut on all civil rights, flexibility and precariousness are stronger to everyone.
Our associations together with others published a text called “The manifesto of solidarity criminals”, a petition in which all petitioners sign and declared that they hodted and helped irregular citizens. 15.000 people signed the petion. We held some meetings. We hope that this goes on after law enforcement.

Q: Didn’t some migrant citizens occupied a church in Marseille?

A: Yes, it often happens. There have been demonstrations, occupations, stopping of deportations since 1997. This gives us some hope.