IMG SRCNot wanted after the voyage: The politics of immigration in France and Canada
by Aaron Lakoff - Global Research / Briarpatch Magazine
September 5, 2008
It's a Tuesday evening in Paris, and in the predominantly immigrant neighbourhood of Belleville, people from all corners of the world are crowding into the metro station. Tension is high tonight; for many, this ride home could be their last in France.
Outside the turnstiles of the metro, a small group of people have gathered to call out warnings to those entering the station. "Attention sans-papiers! There are police in the metro!" Down on the platform, a unit of French police officers are doing a random check of people's immigration documents. Those who are in the country illegally can be swept up right away, put in detention, and then eventually deported. These immigration sweeps in public places have become a common occurrence in France over the last year, and for many undocumented migrants in French President Nicolas Sarkozy's republic, the country is no longer seen as the terre d'accueil, or "land of welcome" it has so long promoted itself to be.
Meanwhile, here in Canada, migrants may not be undergoing such horrific experiences on as large of a scale, but the threat of being snatched up by police in the subway, a hardware store, or even at home is still an everyday reality for many. Particularly in light of the Conservative government's recent changes to the Canadian Immigration Act, an examination of the politics of immigration in France has real bearing on the future of immigration in this country as well.