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French parliament makes US Senate look weak on immigration reform

By Jim Kouri
web posted May 22, 2006

This just might be a first: the French are cracking down on unbridled immigration while the American government is showing weakness in dealing with an out-of-control illegal immigration problem.

The French parliament is backing an immigration bill that is designed to make it more difficult for unskilled workers to settle in France, especially illegal aliens. The French bill offers residence documents to highly qualified immigrants from outside the European Union, while reducing the number of the uneducated and unskilled allowed to settle in France.

Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, who drafted the bill, told the BBC that the new law will bring France into line with other countries, but as with the left in the US, critics say the French bill is racist.

Sarkozy, who is himself the son of a Hungarian immigrant, has since praised the contribution of skilled migrants to France but insists those who entered illegally must be sent back to their own countries.

During a visit to West Africa, Minister Sarkozy faced intense protests and rallies by those who oppose the immigration law. Ahead of his arrival in Mani -- the homeland of many immigrants living in France -- hundreds staged a march against the legislation in the capital, Bamako, according to the French press.

The proposed law will also require immigrants from outside the European Union to sign a binding agreement to learn French and to respect the principles of the French Republic. In addition the law makes it more difficult for immigrant workers to bring their families over to join them and will not recognize "anchor" babies as is done in the US.

Some of the provisions of the French immigration bill are:

  • Only the qualified get "skills and talents" residency permits
  • Foreigners only allowed in to work, not live off benefits such as welfare
  • Foreign spouses to wait longer for residence cards
  • Migrants must agree to learn French
  • Migrants must sign 'contract' respecting the French way of life
  • Scraps the current law on workers getting citizenship after 10 years

Failure to comply with these provisions will be grounds for deportation, according to the bill.

Deputies in the French National Assembly approved the bill by 367 votes to 164 last Wednesday. It must also be passed by the Senate, which will start debating it in June, but it's believed there will be little trouble getting the bill passed.

Minister Sarkozy has argued that riots by youths in immigrant suburbs across France last November showed the system of immigration and integration was failing. He says France, like a number of other Western countries, must choose the immigrants it needs.

"It's selective immigration," he said.

During the debate the interior minister has faced sharp criticism from the opposition from some centrists and most leftists. But Nicolas Sarkozy said France needed immigrants who will bring new skills

Socialist MP Serge Blisko said the bill amounted to "the organized pillaging of brains," according to the Associated Press.

The controversial vote came while Sarkozy traveled to West Africa for a two-day trip in order to discuss immigration issues. Most immigrants living in France come from its former African colonies. The French were sharply rebuked by several nations in the region, including President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal.

The council of Christian Churches wrote to the government expressing its concern as did several left-wing organizations.

Marielou Jampolski, of the French antiracism organization SOS Racisme, said her group was completely opposed to the bill. "We think that it tries to kill every liberty and every right of the French immigrants, and I think it's very dangerous for the country," she told the BBC.

"Fortunately for the French people, who overwhelmingly support the new immigration legislation, their leaders are remaining tough on the issue, unlike their American counterparts who fold like cheap cameras," says political analyst Mike Baker.

Baker also questioned why the US news media are not covering the French immigration story since the US is dealing with the same problem -- immigration.

"I suspect the American press wants us to believe we're alone in our attempts to get tough on illegal immigration," he said.

Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police and he's a staff writer for the New Media Alliance. He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for several major organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. Kouri writes for many police and security magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer and others. He's a news writer for TheConservativeVoice.Com. He's also a columnist for AmericanDaily.Com, MensNewsDaily.Com, MichNews.Com, and he's syndicated by AXcessNews.Com. He's appeared as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, Fox News, etc. His book Assume The Position is available at Amazon.Com. Kouri's own website is located at http://jimkouri.us.

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