News

France Tightens Immigration Requirements

Multimedia

Audio
Lisa Bryant

The French National Assembly has adopted legislation tightening immigration requirements. The senate has not yet examined the bill, which includes a controversial provision for voluntary DNA testing. But, from Paris, Lisa Bryant reports the measure reflects a choosier France - and Europe - when it comes to immigration policy.

France is hardly a fortress, but it is getting harder to enter the country as a legal immigrant - and easier for illegal aliens to be deported. The bill adopted by the National Assembly would require French language tests for visa candidates and parents seeking to join family members to sign immigration contracts. It would also authorize voluntary genetic tests to prove family ties. If passed by both houses, it would be the third French law in five years tightening immigration policy.

The legislation - particularly the controversial DNA provision - has sparked widespread opposition. Leftist politicians, human rights groups, the Vatican and even French police and government ministers have voiced concerns.

Tuesday, several hundred people gathered in front of the National Assembly in Paris, to protest the bill being debated by lawmakers. They included 31-year-old Majid Messoudene, a Socialist party official from the Seine Saint-Denis region outside Paris. Messoudene's parents immigrated to France from Algeria, in the 1960s.

Messoudene said France has a tradition of immigration. He calls it part of the country's wealth. He says, whether the government likes it or not, France will remain a country of immigration.

Nearby, Moussa Bakhaga, from Mali, said he believes Africans like himself - from countries once colonized by France - should be allowed to come here and work.

Bakhaga, who is jobless and has been living in France for the past seven years, says he no longer recognized the country. He says the new immigration policy is extremist.

The new legislation makes good campaign promises by President Nicolas Sarkozy, the son of a Hungarian immigrant. The French president wants what he calls a "chosen immigration" policy, targeting skilled workers who can fill critical labor gaps. Mr. Sarkozy cracked down on immigration as the country's interior minister. This year, he has also vowed to enforce quotas to deport illegal aliens. The target is set for 25,000, compared to 15,000 in 2004. Mr. Sarkozy's immigration minister recently chastised French officials who failed to meet their quotas.

The government's tough stance has outraged immigration rights activists like Mouloud Aounit, head of the Movement Against Racism and for Friendship Between Peoples, a Paris-based anti-discrimination group. Aounit calls France's center-right government "xenophobic."

Although Aounit supports a national - and a even Europe-wide - debate on immigration, he says immigrants' rights should be respected. He says France cannot have immigration legislation that threatens fundamental liberties.

But a poll published in the Le Figaro newspaper, this week, found the majority of French people support immigration quotas. Most also favor French language requirements for would-be immigrants and oppose blanket regularization of illegal aliens.

France is not alone in adopting a choosier approach to immigration.

"We're beginning to have a more sophisticated debate about: okay we accept immigration as a reality and will be a reality going forward," says Hugo Brady, a research fellow at the Center for European Reform, in London. "Now, member states and the European commission are discussing - basically the big issue is how do you get the right kind of immigrant? That is the big issue." .

According to European Union Justice Commissioner Franco Frattini, Europe only draws about five percent of the skilled foreign labor force - compared to the 55 percent who head for the United States.

Frattini has vowed to introduce so-called "blue cards" next month -- Europe's answer to American-style "green cards" for qualified foreign workers. The document would allow holders to stay in a European country for a two-year period. They may eventually be qualified for a longer-term residency and to work in other EU countries.

But immigration specialists, like Catherine de Wenden, say that, as more and more Europeans head toward retirement, the region will need all kinds of immigrants to fill labor shortages - including unskilled ones. Ms. de Wenden is an analyst at the National Center for Scientific Research, in Paris.

Moreover, Wenden says, tougher immigration legislation is not always effective. She says people who leave their country have lost hope to stay and that hey want things to change. She says the desire to go to Europe is very strong.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Interneti
X
Mike O'Sullivan
June 30, 2015 8:20 PM
Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.

VOA Blogs