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May 1994, Volume 1, Number 4

France: Foreigners and Immigrants

There are 3.6 million foreigners and 4.2 million immigrants in France--immigrants include foreigners (69 percent) and persons born abroad who acquire French citizenship (about 100,000 annually). About 55 percent of the immigrants in France in 1990 were from European nations. Foreigners are persons born abroad (79 percent) and those born in France of non-French parents.

France has a complicated procedure for granting "easy" citizenship. According to the jus sanguinis principle, a child of French citizen parents is automatically French, as in most countries. In addition, France as a special type of jus soli--a child born in France with one French parent has a right to French citizenship if he/she so chooses before age 18. Children born in France of non-French parents who have lived in France for at least 5 years can request citizenship between the ages of 16 and 21.

The French right has often accused the government of understating the number of immigrants. There are 6.1 million residents of foreign origin, including children with at least one non-French parent, and 20 percent of the French population of 57 million has at least on foreign parent or grandparent.

Immigration a Campaign Issue

A campaign by the anti-Maastricht party, L'Autre Europe, is using the treaty's promise of freedom of movement for citizens of non-EU nations who are permanent immigrants in one EU nation as an argument against the EU. L'Autre Europe says that freedom of movement could lead to the immigration of "socially and politically unsustainable" e.g. Turks into France.

Pasqua Will Say No to Algerian Refugees

French Interior Minister, Charles Pasqua, said on April 18 that France would refuse to accept any "wave" of refugees fleeing Algeria if Moslem fundamentalists took power. According to Pasqua, the number of asylum requests made to French authorities by Algerians rose from 104 in 1992 to over 1,000 in 1993.

"France Throws Up Barrier to Algeria Refugees," Reuters, April 18, 1994. News