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Malian Student to Be Deported from France

Lisa Bryant

A Paris-area court Thursday rejected a final appeal for a young Malian student to stay in the country. Nineteen-year-old Aminata Sambou will be one of the first illegal immigrant students to be deported from France under a tough new immigration law.

Aminata Sambou and her supporters hoped judicial authorities would overrule a government order to deport the high school student. But Thursday afternoon, a Paris-area administrative tribunal rejected their final appeal. The young high school student left the court in tears.

Jean-Michel Delarbre, a member of Education Sans Frontieres - an activist group trying to prevent the expulsion of illegal foreign students - said Sambou would likely be flown back to her native Mali in a matter of days.

Delarbre said both Sambou and her supporters were extremely upset.

"We've lost a student, a young girl whose done well academically in France," he said. "She should have been allowed to stay."

So far, only a handful of illegal foreign students have been expelled from the country under a tough new French immigration law. Passed by the center-right French government, the legislation aims to significantly increase the numbers of illegal aliens deported from France this year - and to make it harder for them to enter the country.

The center-right government argues that immigrants who follow the rules would be treated fairly - but that France simply cannot accept everyone trying to come in. The government announced it would offer amnesty to about 6,000 aliens who apply for it on a case-by-case basis. But the special offer will only cover about one-third of those applicants.

Sambou arrived in France four years ago, to live with her brother and to study here. She filed for the amnesty, but she was arrested by police for possessing false working papers. Local politicians, friends and teachers at her school have rallied behind her cause. She will remain at a detention center at the Charles de Gaulle airport outside Paris, until French authorities fly her back to Mali.

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