Immigration Laws in France (by A J)

In 1993 the Pasqua Laws were introduced, overturning rights that dated back to the 1789 French Revolution. The new measures included: restricting the ability of people born in France of foreign parents to claim citizenship (previously automatic); making permanent residency permits much harder to obtain, and expanding the powers of immigration authorities to deport non-citizens. A few provisions contemplated in the original law were struck down in 1993 by the French Constitutional Court.

Since that time unsuccessful proposals have emerged, such as: the fingerprinting of visa applicants from those countries deemed to pose a high risk of clandestine immigration, restricting the access to medical and social services, and extending the maximum permissible period of pre-deportation confinement from 10 to 45 days. However, successful subsequent modifications have made it a felony to provide assistance to illegal aliens.

The Pasqua Laws also contained one notorious gap that has trapped thousands of immigrant families in a 'legal conundrum', according to Christian E. O'Connell. Undocumented parents of children, who are citizens, cannot be legally expelled, but are prevented by the Pasqua Laws from receiving residence papers.

The Debre Law, which builds on the Pasqua base, in a 'draconian and arbitrary way', consists of a few 'outrageous' articles, such as: Article 1, which requires that anyone lodging a 'foreigner' report the fact to the authorities; failure to do so may result in the 'offender”' no longer being able to welcome non-citizens into their home. As a result the government has begun to 'slacken' some of its features.

Other articles include compulsory fingerprinting of residency applicants, confiscating passports of 'illegals', increasing police search powers, further restrictions on the granting of residency permits (including in the case of asylum seekers) and reducing avenues of appeal for those denied residency.

According to Sam Wainwright, a majority of French people support increased restrictions on immigration. This reflects the success of the Front National in promoting the idea that there is an 'immigration problem'. He claims that the tightening of government regulations are creating 'illegals' out of people who were previously legal. Wainwright also believes that 'a wall is going up around Europe as quickly as the borders within it are dissappearing, an island of wealth from which the poor masses to the south are excluded'.

Moreover, after the summer stand-off in 1996 by the sans papiers in Saint-Bernard, a June report was issued by the Saint-Bernard 'college of mediators' which stated: 'France is sliding into a tendency characterized by the blocking off and repression which has seized all of Western Eourope.' A UN report earlier this year condemned a perceived wave of racist and xenophobic sentiment in the country, and lamented that France’s 'image as the homeland of human rights has been damaged,' and according to the NCCHR, ethnically motivated violence has been consistently rising in France.