December 1998 Volume 5 Number 12
France: More Amnesty?
Prime Minister Lionel Jospin in November announced that 80,000 illegal immigrants who had family in France or sought to integrate into French society had received residence papers as a result of the 1997-98 amnesty. Another 60,000 whose amnesty applications were rejected are expected to leave France within 12 months..
Daniel Cohn-Bendit, a German selected to lead the France's Green party in 1999's campaign for European Parliament elections, called on France to grant amnesty to the 60,000 foreigners whose applications for amnesty were rejected. Dominique Voynet, a Green environment minister in the current government, said that "those without their papers in order must be allowed to regularize their position: this is being generous and realistic." However, Jospin rebuked the Greens, saying that: "An attitude that would amount to saying that every immigrant who has arrived illegally should be legalized would have the effect of sucking people in and would be totally irresponsible."
On November 21, an estimated 3,000 people marched in Paris is support of additional amnesty. Charles Pasqua, the former hard-line conservative interior minister, surprised observers by echoing the call for amnesty.
Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger, Archbishop of Paris, said in November that Europe is attempting "to cover up the truth [about illegal immigration by describing it as] a relatively limited phenomenon which the governments are making every effort to contain... All the forecasts say that in twenty or thirty years rich and overpopulated Europe will not be able to contain mass invasions of peoples from the South and East.... We have created an attractive way of life of which we are proud, and then we are surprised that those who have been left out want to come in?"
According to the Cardinal, Europe may not want to follow "the American model, which juxtaposes very diverse ethnic groups and peoples [because] the United States is a country of colonization, whereas European countries have a very strong cultural identity. The Church has a contribution to make, because she feels that this patrimony of Christian tradition must be defended while, simultaneously, offering it to others. But I am not sure if Catholics are conscious of this challenge."
In mid-November, an appeals court reduced the ban on political activity by Jean-Marie Le Pen, convicted of attacking a Socialist mayor during the May 1997 election campaign, to a one-year suspension from politics. If Le Pen appeals again, the sentence would be suspended until the case is heard and Le Pen could run in the European elections.
In November, a British Muslim woman was prevented from entering France because she would not remove her veil at passport control.
The French government announced a three-month career training program, financial assistance and the right to re-enter France to persuade illegal immigrant from Morocco, Mali and Senegal to return home.
Students. The French government will spend $17 million to attract international students to study in France. The new program will be called Agence Edufrance, located in Nice. The French government wants to increase the influence of French culture among the future elites of other countries.
In 1998, France had about 130,000 foreign students among the two million college students, most are from French-speaking countries or Europe. By comparison, there are 560,000 international students in the US. France hopes to attract 500,000 to 600,000 students within the next four years.
"About 3,000 march in Paris for illegal immigrants," Reuters, November 21, 1998. Edith Coron, "Far Right Set to Detonate France's Race Powderkeg," Scotland on Sunday, November 22, 1998. "Allies Attack French PM over Immigration," Reuters, November 17, 1998. "French fear rush of aliens into Italy to file for residence," Agence France Presse, November 13, 1998. "France: Government Finance to Draw Foreign Students," Xinhua, November 7, 1998. "France offers aid for illegals, BBC News Service, November 4, 1998.