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Why MGA is Taking Action on Immigrants Rights in the Republic of France

As youth in the north and east of Paris rise up to confront their social exclusion, Mass Global Action, on the eastern seaboard of a country with its own schizophrenia toward immigrants, stands in solidarity. We note that the French Minister of Interior, Nicolas Sarkozy, fans the flames of violence referring to young, mostly French-born, Arabs as "scum" to be "sandblasted" away, adopting the same posture that Theophilus Eugene " Bull" Connor did toward Civil Rights activists in the 1960s. We also note that his future rival for president who today is playing "good cop," Dominique de Villepin, introduced harsh exclusionary policies during his own sojourn at the Interior Ministry.

How is MGA supposed to approach this issue when Massachusetts still is not granting young immigrants the same rights as their fellow students? We can only note the similarities: just 5% of young immigrants to France go to college, their neighborhoods suffer from the same malign neglect that made Katrina so deadly: no good jobs, poor or non-existent social services and public transportation (no wonder 20,000 cars were targeted for arson in France so far this year!), funding cuts to social service NGOs, active discrimination against Arab job seekers...and the list goes on...

Whatever the religious overlays, today's uprising must be seen as similar to the first social explosions that helped usher in the Great Society and awakened the American conscience in the 1960s. Of course, things could go from bad to worse... Nonetheless we are hopeful that in a world of globalized communication and resistance MGA, immigrant advocates in the United States and elsewhere can join together to challenge our common foes.

MGA thanks Pasqualino Colombaro for his assistance in thinking through these issues.

Immigrants Rights in France

This is a quick initial survey of some web-based pieces on immigrants rights in France. With the exception of the final article, everything refers to the French situation.

Immigration Policy in France - Brookings Institution

Now France, like Italy, has been forced to acknowledge that it has become a transit country for asylum seekers and illegal migrants trying to make their way to the United Kingdom or northern Europe.

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Immigration Resources from France - GISTI

Welcome to the GISTI (Groupe d'information et de soutien des immigrés), the Group providing information and support to Immigrants, an independent non-profit organisation, which through its knowledge of immigration law—French, European, and in some respects international—and its experience of immigration practices, defends foreigners, offers training and publications and participates in the debate on migration policies.

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France Rejects Migrant Amnesty - The Guardian (UK)

The French interior minister, Dominique de Villepin, yesterday unveiled a package of tough new anti-immigration measures and warned that mass amnesties for migrants who had entered the country illegally were "completely out of the question".

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France: Headscarf Ban Violates Religious Freedom - Human Rights Watch

(New York, February 27, 2004)—The proposed French law banning Islamic headscarves and other visible religious symbols in state schools would violate the rights to freedom of religion and expression, Human Rights Watch said today. The law, which forbids “signs and dress that conspicuously show the religious affiliation of students,” will be debated in the French Senate on March 2.

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French Integration Policy: Old Goals in New Bottles? - Migration Information Source

France is introducing a new three-pronged approach to immigrant integration: a revised integration plan, a proactive campaign against discrimination, and a more open but still highly selective immigration policy.

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European Action Day on the 31st of January 2004 - No Border Network

14.Nov.03 - After a number of different seminars and workshops on migration and migrants rights a coalition of groups have united in calling for a 'European day of struggles for the regularization (of sans papiers) and for the closure of all detention centers for foreigners'. The intention to have such an action day has been expressed in a common declaration documented below. Watch this site for more information on how to become involved in this action day.

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