Posts Tagged ‘immigration’

Comparing something to something else (say, today’s France to the Vichy Regime) does not mean that this something and that something else are exactly identical. They are just comparable, which means that the resemble at least a little bit. So let’s compare:

“On Monday 5 October the film-maker José Chidlovsky was summoned to the offices of the French border police at Toulouse-Blagnac airport. Chidlovsky is currently filming a documentary called Journal de sans-papiers. This feature-length documentary, filmed in Paris and Toulouse, is due to be completed in 2010. It follows the experiences of several people without residence permits who live in fear of being deported. Amongst them is a young Algerian woman threatened with being escorted to the border and suffering from severe emotional stress. José Chidlovsky is accused of having provided accommodation for the young woman at his home in Toulouse. […] Eric Besson, the Minister for Immigration insists that assisting illegal immigrants, the so-called “offence of solidarity”, is not a crime in France. Yet for having “housed a person in an illegal situation” José Chidlovsky risks a prison sentence. According to his lawyer Pascal Nakache, the prosecutor can either close the case or send the documentary maker before the criminal court.” (from “Film-Maker Accused of Assisting ann Illegal Immigrant”, translation of “Un cinéaste poursuivi pour délit de solidarité”, L’Humanité, October 6 2009) (and see here for a solidarity campaign)

What should a fine comparison start with? With nazis marching in leather boots? Well, no. Not with that, of course. That would be silly.


Readers interested in the fate of quantified performance can have a look here at the performance targets which accompany the 2009 budget for the French Ministry of Immigration and National Identity (a gem of Sarkozy’s France, already blogged about here). The number of actual deportations (“nombre de mesures de reconduites effectives à la frontière”) should increase to 30,000 for next year. (On the problem of the sinister naming of managerial devices, check out also the meaning of the acronym GESTEL, the database upon which this counting is done here: it looks like it stands for “gestion de l’éloignement” that is, “management of estrangement” or “management of the taking away”.)

Well, national deportation statisticians should actually be thanked. They provided a quite astonishing slogan for the recent donation campaign for the CIMADE (a French organization helping migrants held in detention centers): “behind this figure, lives are shattered!”.

Hugo Chávez just triggered some alarm when he announced there will be no Venezuelan oil for European countries using the newly adopted European Union migration directive that says that immigrants considered as illegal can be jailed for up to eighteen months and face a re-entry ban of up to five years. European leaders are saying he just misunderstood the thing:

“Spain’s prime minister said Madrid was prepared to explain the new law “so that the EU’s relationship with all Latin American countries remains positive.” “Maybe we need to explain exactly to the president of Venezuela what this directive (EU law) consists of,” Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said at a two-day EU summit. “There have been many interpretations of this directive… that have nothing to do with what it really is,” he said.” (from “EU says Chavez misunderstood migration law”, Reuters, June 20 2008)

It’s a misunderstanding. Ok. So a little good explanation will do. Explanations are always great:

“Zapatero referred to Chávez’s words at the European Council in Brussels. “We will for sure provide an explanation,” said Zapatero, who has heard “many interpretations” of the law approved by the EU Parliament. “It might be appropriate to explain to Venezuela’s President the meaning of this directive,” because “we hear sometimes interpretations that have not much to do with reality,” said Zapatero.” (from “España explicará la directiva europea sobre inmigración a los países latinoamericanos”, El País, June 20 2008)

Super. There is nothing like a good little explanation. Agreed. But why don’t you guys give that fancy explanation straight away?

Let us guess. And, meanwhile, we will spend some time wondering about this an other new cool ways of using oil.

The amount of evidence in favor of the extreme but plausible hypothesis according to which Nicolas Sarkozy would be, in fact, a dangerous piece of fascist junk (but this is just a working hypothesis) is increasing slightly. This past Thursday, in a much commented TV appearance, he firmly praised against any amnesty to undocumented workers, in reference to recent strikes for work papers (see a couple of background articles from the International Herald Tribune here, here and here). But the problem is that he just confused “régularisation” (giving a work permit, i.e. a green card) and “nationalisation” (granting French citizenship):

“You don’t become French just because you’ve got a job in the kitchen of a restaurant, no matter how fancy.” (quoted in “Nicolas Sarkozy confond naturalisation et régularisation”,, April 25 2008, and in “Quand Sarkozy confond ‘naturalisation’ et ‘régularisation'”, Nouvel Obs, April 25 2008)

Ok, but let’s be fair. This may be just a temporary lapse of awareness, a sign of fatigue, a slight misunderstanding. Perhaps nothing to do with the “Français d’abord” economic unconscious.

(Well, to be checked.)

The French newspaper Libération makes today available here a facsimile of a very instructive French administrative document:


You have expressed a request for the regularization of your administrative status in France.

I am pleased to inform you that requests for regularization are not handled through postal correspondence. You are kindly asked to proceed in person at the Police Station, Bureau for Foreigners, on Tuesday or Thursday morning, in order to request an examination of your case.

Sincerely yours,

The Prefect”

(from an administrative letter from the Préfecture de Nanterre, reproduced in “Quand les préfectures piègent les sans-papiers”, Libération, April 14 2008)

That’s another trick to catch some immigrant. An internal administrative note, commented also by Libération in the same article, explains how to proceed with the trick: when the obedient applicant pops up, first, the police agent has to ask for the victim’s passport and put it aside, then ask the victim or victims (if it’s a family) to sit in the waiting room, and then arrest them. This second note urges cops to do that conscientiously:

“Expelling foreigners in irregular situation is a priority mission for our services. We are committed to performance targets. I therefore ask you to implement these instructions with great zeal.” (quoted in “Quand les préfectures piègent les sans-papiers”, Libération, April 14 2008)

The game for today is to tell what kind of trick this is. Any guess?

(A hint: it’s not of the hidden camera prank kind.)

For the record: another person died last week out of Sarkozy’s statistical terror. On Friday April 5, the cops where using (as it is becoming usual) transportation fare control as a device to capture some immigrant at the Joinville-le-Pont RER station, near Paris. Someone jumped into the Marne and died of a heart attack. Here is some media coverage at Libération and Le Monde. There is also a statement by RESF (Réseau Education Sans Frontières) here. And Rue89 reported and attempt from associations at occupying the EHESS (Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales) in order to alert intellectuals.

Warning: when you take a flight from Paris to Casablanca, you may have the chance to sample some exquisite French administrative prose. Immigration cops gave this official leaflet to a passenger at the boarding gate:

“Sir, Madam,

You may have been asked to express opposition to the boarding in your same flight of a person who is in the process of being expelled out of the French territory on the bases of a legal decision. The following information is therefore brought to your attention. The decision of expulsion is a legitimate act. Any attempt at impeding or hampering the departure of the flight or at promoting protest among other passengers is a crime that will be punished by the law. Punishment is of five-years imprisonment and a 18,000 euros fee. Moreover, outrage and rebellion can translate into further prosecution, with penalties of six-months imprisonment and a 7,500 euros fee. If such crimes are committed in collective reunion, penalties are of one-year imprisonment and a 15,000 euros fee.” (from “Vol Paris-Casa du 27/02/2008”, Indymedia Paris Île-de-France, February 28 2008)

Quite terrorizing, isn’t it? Well, apparently some passengers of that flight thought it was still ok to say something before taking off when they started hearing someone screaming in the back of the plane, anyway. Seventeen CRS (French riot control forces) were sent into the plane to arrest some. According to the witness, the remaining passengers were, in effect, terrorized. Mission accomplished.

El Roto provides here (in today’s edition of El País) an extremely interesting lesson on political deictics (“them”, “us”, “them or us”). His cartoon clarifies Mariano Rajoy‘s xenophobic campaign for this week’s elections in Spain — “aquí ya no cabemos más ellos” best translated as “there is not enough room for all of us them”.

French police is building a network of undercover sneaks among civil servants working for other governmental services — such as the employment office or the social assistance — to serve Sarkozy’s anti-immigration statistics (see Doing Figures for a previous comment). Check that out:

“In a note issued on October 10, the police prefecture of Haute-Garonne explains how to build a “group of referring agents” in the region’s public administrations (employment office, social assistance, etc.). The mission of these civil servants is to report directly to the police if they spot some suspicious identification documents.” (from “A Toulouse, la préfecture monte son réseau d’indics”, Libération, November 26 2007)

This quasi-clandestine device is meant to bypass the existing regulation against the cross-matching of national records. Apparently, the cops also mention the possibility of enrolling public hospitals in this network of stoolies.

Maître Eolas (already presented in One Darkest Page) makes here a couple of relevant clarifications about the controversial French law on immigration control, integration and asylum that was just passed after a few amendments (see also Them or Us and Some of Them). At the center of a heated debate on the law was a controversial measure: testing the genetic integrity of family members seeking to join an immigrant parent. But that apparently prevented parliamentary opposition from spotting some other nasty things going on there. Much nastier, according to Eolas. DNA was just a baby rattle.

An asylum seeker just willingly bumping into police control at the airport can now be retained into the “waiting zone” for four days, straight. This detention conditions, Eolas observes, would hardly apply to a baby killer or a mafia gangster. The thing is that if you claim asylum, you need to fill a request at the OFRA, but before you need to enter effectively the national territory. So administrative police is in charge of deciding if you’re allowed or not to make an asylum request. Until recently, administrative police could easily turn the seeker out, without the cumbersome intervention of a judge. But France got the great honor of having the European Court of Human Rights condemning this sort of things in April 2007 (the government said that they do indeed wait for a judge to say something before putting people in planes, but that’s a lie according to Eolas, which is a lawyer and has seen many planes passing). So the French revenge against human rights is now, for instance, a short enough 48h time lapse in which the seeker is supposed to get a lawyer to fill a motivated complain, in proper French, against the police decision.

So, yes, it seems that administrative police is free and able to pass the new French message.