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November 2002, Volume 9, Number 11

France, Benelux

On October 19, more than 5,000 people marched through Paris to demand residency permits for illegal migrants. Similar marches occurred in Marseille, Lille, Le Havre and Clermont-Ferrand. Activists are hoping that the center-right government elected in June 2002, will be more generous that the previous Socialist government to foreigners who are not legal, but cannot be deported., the so called "sans-papiers."

The new French government is aiming to reduce crime and increase immigrant integration. The French cabinet in October 2002 approved a sweeping anti-crime bill, the "Sarkozy law," aimed at reducing "insecurity." In a move aimed at gypsies, begging and vagabondage which were decriminalized in 1994 for the first time since Napoleonic times, will again become crimes, squatters who occupy private land will face prison terms, and "passive soliciting" by prostitutes will become a crime.

Much of France's crime is linked to migration from Eastern Europe and incomplete integration of North African migrants, many of whom live in high-rise apartments in the suburbs of major cities. President Jacques Chirac outlined a plan to provide job training and French language courses to immigrants, so-called integration contracts between France and immigrants. There have also been other efforts to step up integration. Dogad Dogoui, an immigrant to France from the Ivory Coast who has naturalized, has launched a political movement to give the 1.5 million Blacks in France more political power. In 36,000 city and town councils, about 100 city council members are Black.

Netherlands. The Dutch center-right government collapsed in October 2002, less than 100 days after taking power, when the anti-immigrant Pim Fortuyn List party disintegrated. Dutch voters will go to the polls January 22, 2002, and analysts predicted that a new center-right coalition would likely distance itself from the anti-immigration policies of Pim Fortuyn's party, which called for a halt to immigration.

Elaine Sciolino, "A Crime-Weary France Plans a Crackdown," New York Times, October 24, 2002. Jean-Marie Godard, "French March for Immigrant Permits," Associated Press, October 19, 2002.