What faces sans-papiers in France?

The hunt for sans-papiers is in full swing in our communities. Every day, racist, illegal ID checks (akin to “walking while black”), raids in restaurants, cafes, shops – all to hound sans-papiers. Round-ups in Stalingrad-Flandres, Belleville, outside the schools where people prove their integration…

Detention centres
Veritable prisons. Arrested sans-papiers are detained in over populated centres with barbed wire, watchtowers, to face raids, inspections and harassment. Infants and children can remain locked up for weeks.

A policy of quotas that crushes
In 2007, France deported 24,000 sans-papiers… at what price? Families arrested, at home, in the small hours of the morning. Children born in France, attending school in France, suddenly sent to a country which is not their own… families torn apart when one parent is sent to the other side of the world without having said goodbye… We haven’t forgotten Chulan, a Chinese sans-papiers who, fearing an immigration raid, jumped from a window and died last September 21st.

Laws which create sans-papiers.
 Sarkozy’s government doesn’t bother to attack the poverty or oppression of hundreds of millions of people worldwide. Rather it prefers to hound the 400,000 sans-papiers on our soil through laws which disrupt their regularisation, their integration and their right to a dignified, family life. This policy fosters clandestinity and all its associated woes; mafia ferrymen, landlords and employers entirely without scruples.

We can’t let this happen.
More and more of us are saying no. When a school’s headmistress and the students’ parents passively resist the arrest of a sans-papiers outside their school, they are in the right! When the inhabitants of a neighbourhood mobilise to free a sans-papiers from detention, they are right! Our children and the children of sans-papiers play and learn together: how are we to explain to our children the violence visited upon their friends?

What about respecting the rule of law? Round ups based on skin colour are illegal. Sans-papiers have rights too, notably to a private and familial life, guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights. The administration refuses to recognise the tradition of sans-papiers in France. Every year it complicates the process of regularisation. It doesn’t apply its own policies (circulaire Sarkozy 13 June 2006).

Unite for regularisation! The government is attempting to repress every sentiment of fraternity in penalising the “crime of solidarity”. Opposition is a right – sometimes a responsibility! For those of us living in working class neighbourhoods, immigrants and sans-papiers are no menace to “national cohesion”. Alexis (three years old), Rania (eight), Aicha (12), Keila (17) and their parents, sans-papiers, are not dangerous, they are in danger!

Diversity is not the poverty of the world but its wealth!

Original authors: RESF [Réseau Education Sans Frontières] – Coordination 75 des Sans-Papiers UCIJ [Uni(e)s Contre une Immigration Jetable] 19-20 Quartiers Solidaires Belleville – FCPE [Fédérations des Conseils de Parents d’Elèves] Paris – Hui Ji


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