Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

Royal decree on low-cut tops

Read more

DEBATE

Ukraine, The Escalation: No Stopping Putin? (part 2)

Read more

DEBATE

Ukraine, The Escalation: No Stopping Putin?

Read more

FOCUS

Bangladesh: Textile workers' lives still at risk?

Read more

TALKING EUROPE

José Bové, Candidate for the EU Commission presidency, Group of the Greens

Read more

WEB NEWS

NYPD's online campaign backfires

Read more

ENCORE!

Celebrating the Bard's birthday in Britain

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Yuki Tatsumi, Senior Associate of the East Asia Program, Stimson Center

Read more

INSIDE THE AMERICAS

USA: Executions halted over drugs secrecy

Read more

  • Russia orders military drills as Ukraine moves on separatists

    Read more

  • Israel halts Middle East peace talks over Hamas deal

    Read more

  • Platini: PSG in danger over Financial Fair Play rules

    Read more

  • Ségolène Royal denies banning cleavage at French ministry

    Read more

  • Afghan guard kills US doctors in Kabul hospital attack

    Read more

  • Palestinian unity deal stirs anger in Israel

    Read more

  • Video: Mayor in east Ukraine ready ‘to turn Slaviansk into battlefield’

    Read more

  • US would defend Japan in islands dispute, Obama says

    Read more

  • New far-right mayor moves to quash Paris region mosque

    Read more

  • US soldiers arrive in Poland as Ukraine crisis continues

    Read more

  • Fatah, Hamas agree to form Palestinian unity government

    Read more

  • Millions of Syrians desperately need aid, says UN

    Read more

  • Muslims in CAR pray for an escape route

    Read more

  • Madrid beat Bayern 1-0 in first leg of Champions League semis

    Read more

  • Britain's ex-PM Blair warns against spread of radical Islam

    Read more

  • Turkish PM offers condolences to descendants of Armenians killed in 1915

    Read more

  • Gay marriage, one year on: ‘French civilisation did not crumble’

    Read more

  • Colombian president reinstates firebrand Bogota mayor

    Read more

  • NYPD public relations campaign on Twitter goes awry

    Read more

  • In pictures: Violent protests erupt in Rio

    Read more

France

Moving on from Sarkozy’s immigration policies

©

Text by Assiya HAMZA

Latest update : 2012-07-27

Blasting former French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s controversial immigration policies as “random and discriminatory,” new French Interior Minister Manuel Valls (pictured) has called for more objective procedures, a move welcomed by immigrant groups.

French Interior Minister Manuel Valls wants to wipe the slate clean. At a Senate committee hearing Wednesday, Valls announced the new French administration’s intention to axe some of the controversial immigration procedures introduced under former French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

In a swipe at his predecessor, former Interior Minister Claude Gueant’s immigration policies, Valls said the previous administration’s naturalisation criteria were "random and discriminatory".

Valls noted that he would like to see more objectivity in the process without necessarily making broad concessions on France’s immigration policy.

The "naturalisation criteria surreptitiously introduced by my predecessor" were like a "random, discriminatory obstacle course,” he told the Senate committee Wednesday.

Discretionary powers to local immigration centers

During his presidency, Sarkozy made the integration of immigrants a key domestic issue, implementing several policy reviews during his five-year term before he was voted out of office in May 2012.

Until 2010, naturalisation decisions for immigrants across France were made at a central office in the western city of Nantes, making it a fairly straightforward administrative procedure.

But after the previous administration transferred the responsibility for that process from the Nantes office to local prefectures, naturalization decisions were made at the discretion of each jurisdiction. As a result, between 2010 and 2011, the number of naturalizations dropped from 94, 573 to 66, 273.

"Earlier, naturalisation was a gateway to integration. Today, the logic is completely reversed. Naturalisation has become a certificate of good conduct," wrote immigration specialist Catherine de Wenden in the left-leaning French daily, Libération, in May 2012.

‘Whom do you associate with the Arc de Triomphe?’

By addressing the naturalisation requirements of the previous administration, Valls said he intends to put an end to the arbitrariness of immigration policies.

High on the list of procedures Valls intends to axe is the test of French culture and history. A new decree, published in January 2012, which comes into effect July 1, officially scraps the culture and history test.

The old test, which was for immigrants with primary school level education, featured multiple choice questions such as, “Whom do you associate with the Arc de Triomphe? a) Napoleon b) General de Gaulle c) Julius Caesar?" Another question asked candidates to select the date for the abolition of slavery - from a choice of 1848, 1918 or 1968.

In his hearing before the Senate committee Wednesday, Valls noted that many “ministers and senators would find it difficult to answer the question because it is so out of line,” he said, adding that the test was "like a game show ".

‘The law must be the same for all’

According to Valls, the previous administration’s "deliberate policy to exclude deserving people” from the process has resulted in a "free fall” in naturalisations.

"If nothing is done, this number will drop by 40% between 2011 and 2012 after falling 30% between 2010 and 2011,” said the minister, who is of Spanish origin and was naturalised about 30 years ago.

"The challenge of immigration is to ensure that naturalisation is no longer seen, or perceived, as the end of an obstacle course, but as a process of integration,” he said.

The new procedures were welcomed by France Terre d'Asile, a Paris-based immigrant rights group. "It’s a step in the right direction, but we need more information and details,” said Matthew Tardis, head of the organisation, in an interview with FRANCE 24. “We need to limit the arbitrary nature of naturalisation procedures where local prefectures hold discretionary powers. The law must be the same for all. We need a clear framework."

It’s a sentiment echoed by Eduardo Rhian Cypel, a Socialist parliamentarian and spokesman for France Terre d'Asile. “We need objective criteria. These are conventional criteria in the French Republic: residency in the country, for how many years, do you have a job, do you have children who are in school? These new rules will be much simpler,” said the Brazilian-born politician, who is himself a naturalised French citizen. “A strong France is a France that is capable of accepting newcomers to the national community."
 

Date created : 2012-07-27

  • FRANCE

    French police lose power to detain illegal immigrants

    Read more

  • FRENCH ELECTIONS 2012

    Hollande calls limiting economic immigration 'essential'

    Read more

  • FRANCE - IMMIGRATION

    'Illegal' Roma teenager wins French 'best apprentice' award

    Read more

Comments

COMMENT(S)