Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

THE DEBATE

Democratic Convention: Can the Democrats now unite around Hillary Clinton?

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

'Lady Liberty': The story behind the pictures

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

'The People Want Bernie' chanted at Democratic Convention

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Air France set for fresh strike action

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Is France 'at war'?

Read more

EYE ON AFRICA

South Sudan: President Salva Kiir names new vice president

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Leaked emails overshadow Democratic convention

Read more

ENCORE!

Music show: Hot hits for the summer season

Read more

FOCUS

Canada: Religious sponsorship of refugees creates controversy

Read more

An in-depth report by our senior reporters and team of correspondents from around the world. Every Saturday at 9.10 pm Paris time. And you can watch it online as early as Friday.

REPORTERS

REPORTERS

Latest update : 2011-07-01

The 'French dream' of Tunisia’s illegal immigrants

After the revolution that toppled former President Ben Ali, some 23,000 Tunisians crossed over illegally to the Italian island of Lampedusa. Many have stayed in Italy, others made their way to France. France 24 caught up in Paris with the same group of migrants we filmed in Tunisia in March.

This is “part 2” of a story that began after the fall of former Tunisian President Ben Ali. In the post-revolution chaos, coastguards stopped patrolling the Tunisian coastline and tens of thousands paid smugglers (about 1,000 euros per person) to pack them on old fishing boats and get them to the Italian island of Lampedusa, the gateway to Europe.

They weren’t fleeing the political chaos in the country at the time: they were looking for economic opportunities in a land far richer than theirs.

In “part 1” of the story, we followed Mokhtar, Mohanned and Alaeddine as they prepared to cross the Mediterranean sea. All are part of the same family, all come from Tataouine, the main town in the economically-depressed south.

Three months after they left Tunisia, we decided we needed to show what happens when they reach their destination: what do they do? how are they faring in their new home?

We caught up with them in Aubervilliers, a working-class suburb just north of Paris. They all survived the boat trip, and they all chose to leave Italy for France because they have relatives who can help them here.

What struck me is not so much the hardship or the difficulty for illegal immigrants of finding a job in France, but the huge disconnect between the reality of life here and the expectations of most of these migrants. Alaeddine put it very simply: “coming to France, he said, is the dream of every young Arab. France means tall buildings, luxury cars and luxury clothes.”

What a disappointment it was for him! Alaeddine quickly realized that as an undocumented immigrant who hardly spoke the language, it would be extremely difficult for him to get anything beyond a very menial job. So he decided to cut his losses and now wants to go home.

But many others will hang on and tough it out here, waiting for a job to come their way. They’ve sacrificed too much, taken too many risks, to just give up.

Our report is the story of these undocumented immigrants from southern Tunisia, trying to make it here in France.

By Zakaria DRIAS , Julien SAUVAGET , Cyril VANIER

COMMENT(S)

Archives

2016-07-08 history

Video: The trial of Chad's ex-dictator Habré, an inconvenient ally

In May, former Chadian president Hissène Habré, who ruled his country with an iron fist between 1982 and 1990, was sentenced to life in prison for "crimes against humanity,...

Read more

2016-07-01 agriculture

Video: FRANCE 24 speaks to French farmers in crisis

France is the EU's largest agricultural producer, but its farmers are faced with administrative constraints, falling sales prices and debt. Many are pushed into depression and...

Read more

2016-06-23 World War I

World War I: When northern France was on German time

During World War I, thirteen of France's regional departments were under German occupation. For four years, two million French citizens took their orders from Berlin. No more...

Read more

2016-06-17 USA

Video: American conservatives strike back

Some southern US lawmakers have launched a legislative offensive to protect the "religious freedom" they believe is under threat. In Mississippi, homosexuals can now be denied...

Read more

2016-06-09 Iran

Video: A year of change for Iran since nuclear accord

It’s now been a year since Iran struck its historic nuclear accord with six world powers under which Tehran vowed to curb its nuclear programme in exchange for the lifting of...

Read more