Rioux: Quel «dérapage»? [on Premier Legault’s comments on social cohesion]

Le Devoir’s European correspondent Christian Rioux comparing EU social cohesion concerns with those of Premier Legault.

While recognizing the differences between Canada’s (and Quebec’s) immigration selection systems and integration programs and those of EU countries, he nevertheless reverts to the same social cohesion concerns without examining the effects of Quebec political discourse and legislation that have contributed to social exclusion, not social cohesion:

« Couvrez ce sein que je ne saurais voir », disait le Tartuffe. Convenons que ses héritiers modernes ont des formules moins élégantes que celles de Molière. Ces temps-ci, ils préfèrent parler de « dérapage ». Mais l’effet est le même. Il consiste à écarter du débat tout propos un peu dérangeant dès lors qu’il aborde une question litigieuse. L’étiquette vaut à elle seule condamnation.

Ainsi en va-t-il des récents propos de François Legault sur l’immigration. Pourtant, qu’y a-t-il de plus banal que d’affirmer comme l’a fait le premier ministre la semaine dernière qu’une forte immigration peut nuire à la « cohésion nationale » ?

On comprend que dans un pays « post-national » comme le Canada, où l’immigration a été sacralisée, ces propos créent la polémique. Mais, vu d’Europe, où le débat est ancien et plus nourri, il est évident que l’immigration massive pose partout et toujours un défi à la cohésion nationale.

Cela se vérifie à des degrés divers dans la plupart des pays européens. En France, sous l’effet d’une immigration incontrôlée et très largement issue du monde arabo-musulman, on a assisté depuis de nombreuses années à un véritable morcellement du pays. Dans toutes les grandes villes sont apparues des banlieues islamisées autrement appelées ghettos. Pas besoin de s’appeler Marine Le Pen pour le constater. Interrogé par des collègues du Monde en 2014, le président François Hollande lui-même n’avait pas hésité à le reconnaître. « Je pense qu’il y a trop d’arrivées, d’immigration qui ne devrait pas être là », disait-il. Et celui-ci de conclure : « Comment peut-on éviter la partition ? Car c’est quand même ça qui est en train de se produire : la partition. » (Un président ne devrait pas dire ça…, Gérard Davet et Fabrice Lhomme, Stock).

Certains diront évidemment qu’en France, ce n’est pas pareil. Soit. Tournons donc nos yeux vers un pays plus à notre échelle.

Avec ses 10 millions d’habitants, son économie de pointe, son climat boréal, son amour du consensus et son parti pris en faveur de l’égalité hommes-femmes, la Suède partage plusieurs points communs avec le Québec.

Il n’y a pas longtemps, dans ce petit paradis nordique, celui qui s’inquiétait de l’immigration massive était accusé de « déraper », quand il n’était pas traité de raciste. Les Suédois regardaient de haut des pays comme la France et le Danemark, soupçonnés de xénophobie. Jusqu’à ce que la réalité les rattrape. La flambée des émeutes ethniques, comme en France, et l’irruption de la violence dans les banlieues ont vite fait de les ramener sur terre. Aujourd’hui, de la social-démocratie à la droite populiste, les trois grands partis estiment qu’il en va justement de la « cohésion nationale ». C’est pourquoi ce pays, qui a toujours été particulièrement généreux à l’égard des réfugiés, a radicalement resserré ses critères d’admission et a multiplié les mesures d’intégration. L’élection sur le fil d’une majorité de droite, finalement confirmée mercredi, ne fera que conforter cette orientation.

Les belles âmes ont beau détourner le regard, en Suède comme en France, il est devenu évident qu’un lien existe (même s’il n’explique pas tout) entre l’immigration incontrôlée et la croissance d’une certaine criminalité. Les événements récents du printemps au Stade de France, où des centaines de supporters britanniques se sont fait détrousser à la pointe du couteau par des dizaines de délinquants, ont forcé le ministre de l’Intérieur à reconnaître ce dont les habitants de la Seine-Saint-Denis se doutaient depuis belle lurette.

La Suède aussi a connu une explosion de la petite criminalité et des règlements de compte entre gangs. Elle a notamment enregistré une croissance des morts par balle parmi les plus fortes en Europe. Aujourd’hui, même la gauche sociale-démocrate l’admet. Et elle s’est résolue à augmenter les effectifs policiers. Contrairement à la France, cette prise de conscience fait aujourd’hui un certain consensus dans la classe politique.

Cela n’a rien à voir avec la peur de l’Autre. Comme nombre de Français, les Suédois ont dû se rendre à l’évidence et cesser d’envisager l’immigration comme une simple question morale. Les peuples ont le droit de réglementer l’immigration sans se faire traiter à chaque fois de raciste par une gauche morale et une droite libérale qui en ont fait leur Saint-Graal.

Bien sûr, l’immigration n’est pas la même en France, en Suède et au Québec. À cause de son histoire et de sa position en Europe, la France connaît une forte immigration illégale et de regroupement familial. Naïvement et par générosité, la Suède a ouvert toutes grandes ses portes aux réfugiés et elle n’a jamais contrôlé son immigration économique. Le Québec, où l’équilibre linguistique est plus que précaire, subit des quotas d’immigration parmi les plus élevés au monde et une immigration temporaire hors de contrôle.

Il n’empêche que, malgré ces différences réelles, les mêmes causes produisent partout les mêmes effets. Ce n’est souvent qu’une question de temps.

Lentement, depuis une décennie, tous les tabous de la mondialisation se sont effrités. Ceux qui ont vécu les années 1980 se souviennent de l’enthousiasme et de la naïveté qui accompagnaient cette nouvelle phase d’expansion du capital. Nous n’en sommes plus là. L’immigration de masse demeure le dernier mythe encore vivace de cette époque.

Source: Quel «dérapage»?

Immigrant population rises in France, but so does discrimination

Interesting studies:

Two studies have released data highlighting the persistent discrimination immigrants face in France. The data reveals that although a large swath of France’s population has immigrant ancestry, discrimination in French society is still high.

Two landmark new studies in France are bursting myths about immigration at a time when xenophobic far-right discourse has gained ground. They show that the children of immigrants are increasingly melting into French society but some with African and Asian backgrounds face persistent discrimination.

Karima Simmou, French-Moroccan student at the prestigious Paris university Sciences Po, embodies the phenomenon.

She comes from a working-class family of eight children, with a mother who raised the family and a father who worked as a miner in western France. She was pushed by her family to go to the elite school.

The children and grandchildren of immigrants from Africa and Asia are well integrated in the French educational system compared with their elders, according to another report. Data show they have increasingly higher education levels than their parents, though many struggle to attain comparable educational levels to French people without immigrant heritage.

And getting jobs is harder, too: 60% of those with non-European roots hold intermediate or high-level jobs, compared with 70% of French people without direct immigrant kinship.

Ined researcher Mathieu Ichou noted two possible explanations for the hiring discrepancy.

“Several surveys, data and audit studies backed up that hiring is not favorable to minorities, and they experience discrimination. France is pretty bad regarding this issue, compared to other European countries,” he said.

Also, Mr. Ichou said, “minorities tend to be underrepresented in the French elite schools.”

Source: Immigrant population rises in France, but so does discrimination

MPI: France Reckons with Immigration Amid Reality of Rising Far Right

A few of the excerpts that I found of interest:

A Significant Increase in Immigrants’ Educational Attainment

Perhaps in part due to the efforts of successive French administrations, immigrants’ level of education has risen sharply in recent decades. In 1975, just 3 percent of immigrants had a higher education degree (which includes a postsecondary diploma or a certificate from a professionally oriented program), compared to 28 percent in 2018.

Immigrants tend to be at one end or the other of the education spectrum: Compared to the overall population, a greater share of immigrants had only a primary-level education (33 percent of the foreign born and 14 percent of the total population in 2018) or a university degree (19 percent and 22 percent respectively; see Figure 3). At the same time, the proportion of immigrants with some postsecondary education (which may include certificates from professionally oriented programs) but not a bachelor’s degree are lower than in the resident population. However, recent immigrants who have been in France for less than five years tend to be better educated.

Immigrants Who Enter as Students Increasingly Stay on to Work

In recent years, France has had one of Europe’s largest populations of international students, with 283,700 at the start of the 2018 academic year (including EU nationals), second only to the United Kingdom and representing 11 percent of France’s students in tertiary education. Between 2000 and 2018, an average of 47,400 third-country students entered France each year, with steadily increasing numbers after 2012 and as many as 65,800 in 2018, when students represented around one-quarter of all immigrants.

Many of these students stay in France for multiple years. Between 42 percent and 50 percent of international students who arrived from 2000 to 2014 continued to hold a valid residence permit five years later, a range that has remains remarkably stable over time (see Figure 5). Most were still students, although since 2006 an increasing share has obtained work permits (notably for highly qualified individuals), reflecting greater labor market integration of immigrants arriving as students. The figures decreased slightly for the cohorts that arrived in 2007 and 2008, reflecting actions by the interior and labor ministries in 2011 asking prefectures to “rigorously” examine students’ applications for change of status, although these provisions were repealed the following May, after François Hollande became president.

Conclusion: Outsized Focus at Odds with Reality

Despite these political pressures, immigration trends in France are comparable to other countries and not, as some of the far right have claimed, a reflection that the government has lost control. Immigrants represent just about 10 percent of France’s total population and the numbers have not increased dramatically in recent years, yet issues of migration were prominent during the 2022 election and appear likely to persist.

In particular, government efforts today are focused on encouraging immigration of highly educated people deemed to be good for the French economy, and limiting arrivals of everyone else. In many ways, this is simply an updated version of France’s decades-old focus on welcoming immigrants whose characteristics and skills are considered useful to the economy, as it did in the years after World War II. Yet the distinction between beneficial and detrimental migration is misplaced, both because it can be deeply hurtful to those who are deemed unwanted, but also because economic analysis by the author and others shows that family migration has led to an increase in France’s per capita gross domestic product and that asylum seekers do not burden European economies.

Political figures on France’s far right have advanced an apocalyptic and radical vision of how immigration is changing their country, which is out of step with current realities. During her campaign, Le Pen promised to stop family reunification, make it harder for children of immigrants born in France to be citizens, and limit welfare benefits to French citizens. Even in defeat, her performance in 2022 underscores how willing many French voters are to embrace these kinds of approaches.

Source: MPI: France Reckons with Immigration Amid Reality of Rising Far Right

The Quiet Flight of Muslims From France

Of interest. Haven’t found any comparable data for Canada but will check the 2021 census data when it comes out (which will have religious affiliation data):

France’s wounded psyche is the invisible character in every one of Sabri Louatah’s novels and the hit television series he wrote. He speaks of his “sensual, physical, visceral love” for the French language and of his attachment to his hometown in southeastern France, bathed in its distinctive light. He closely monitors the campaign for the upcoming presidential elections.

But Mr. Louatah does all of that from Philadelphia, the city that he began considering home after the 2015 attacks in France by Islamist extremists, which killed scores of people and deeply traumatized the country. As sentiments hardened against all French Muslims, he no longer felt safe there. One day, he was spat on and called, “Dirty Arab.”

“It’s really the 2015 attacks that made me leave because I understood they were not going to forgive us,” said Mr. Louatah, 38, the grandson of Muslim immigrants from Algeria. “When you live in a big Democratic city on the East Coast, you’re more at peace than in Paris, where you’re deep in the cauldron.”

Ahead of elections in April, President Emmanuel Macron’s top three rivals — who are expected to account for nearly 50 percent of the vote, according to polls — are all running anti-immigrant campaigns that fan fears of a nation facing a civilizational threat by invading non-Europeans. The issue is top of their agenda, even though France’s actual immigration lags behind that of most other European countries.

The problem barely discussed is emigration. For years, France has lost highly educated professionals seeking greater dynamism and opportunity elsewhere. But among them, according to academic researchers, is a growing number of French Muslims who say that discrimination was a strong push factor and that they felt compelled to leave by a glass ceiling of prejudice, nagging questions about their security and a feeling of not belonging.

The outflow has gone unremarked upon by politicians and the news media even as researchers say it shows France’s failure to provide a path for advancement for even the most successful of its largest minority group, a “brain drain” of those who could have served as models of integration.

“These people end up contributing to the economy of Canada or Britain,” said Olivier Esteves, a professor at the University of Lille’s center on political science, public law and sociology, which surveyed 900 French Muslim émigrés and conducted in-depth interviews with 130 of them. “France is really shooting itself in the foot.”

French Muslims, estimated at 10 percent of the population, occupy a strangely outsize place in the campaign — even if their actual voices are seldom heard. It is not only an indication of the lingering wounds inflicted by the attacks of 2015 and 2016, which killed hundreds, but also of France’s long struggle over identity issues and its unresolved relationship with its former colonies.

Source: The Quiet Flight of Muslims From France

Yakabuski: Quebec and France join forces against cancel culture

Yakabuski points out the irony given the cancel culture aspects of their policies and the intolerance of Bill 21:

When France’s education minister, Jean-Michel Blanquer, learned that a francophone Ontario school board had held a book-burning ceremony involving titles banned because of their negative portrayal of Indigenous people, he contacted his Quebec counterpart to commiserate.

Mr. Blanquer, who has been on a mission to turn back the tide of “cancel culture” on French university campuses, was incredulous at the news – which made the pages of the prestigious Paris-based Le Monde – of the Providence school board’s “flame purification” ceremony.

Included among the books incinerated during the ceremony – held in 2019, but which only came to light last month in a Radio-Canada report – were titles from the cartoon collections Tintin, Lucky Luke and Asterix, beloved by generations of young francophones on both sides of the Atlantic.

The result of Mr. Blanquer’s commiserating with Quebec Education Minister Jean-François Roberge was a joint op-ed, published last week in Quebec and France, denouncing the “pernicious influence of a culture of intolerance and erasure” embodied by the book-burning.

“We have a duty to prepare our youth to exercise active, respectful and enlightened citizenship. A citizenship that allows for debate, the opinions of others, the confrontation of ideas and the questioning of all our beliefs,” Mr. Blanquer and Mr. Roberge wrote. “That is why we affirm with force and conviction that public schools, the first line of defence against ignorance and darkness, must be the preferred location for the construction of a common civic project.”

The op-ed was just Mr. Roberge’s opening salvo in his own crusade against wokeism in Quebec public schools. Two days later, the Coalition Avenir Québec minister announced his government would introduce a new “Quebec culture and citizenship” (QCC) course to replace the “ethics and religious culture” (ERC) curriculum now taught in public schools.

The current ERC course was adopted by former premier Jean Charest’s Liberal government in 2008, a decade after Quebec replaced its Catholic and Protestant school boards with linguistic ones. The ERC, which replaced the catechism courses that had long been taught in French Catholic schools, aimed to familiarize primary and secondary school students with the panoply of religions practised in Quebec. But critics have long argued that the course is an affront to modern Quebec’s secularist values.

That is an exaggeration. Even the children of non-believers should understand the influence of religion in the lives of most people, and the role the Catholic faith played in shaping modern Quebec. But the anti-clericalism espoused by francophone intellectuals since the Quiet Revolution has hardened attitudes toward the separation of church and state in Quebec.

The Mouvement laïque québécois (MLQ), an organization dedicated to the “total secularization of the state and public institutions in Quebec,” called the abolition of the ERC course “a breath of fresh air.” The ERC, the MLQ said, has been “an aberration and a disaster on the social level.”

Given its populist leanings, the CAQ government to which Mr. Roberge belongs is not particularly popular in Quebec intellectual circles. But Quebec nationalists and intellectuals have found common ground when it comes to secularism.

Both support Bill 21, though for different reasons. Nationalists see the law that prohibits some public-sector employees from wearing religious symbols as an assertion of Quebeckers’ distinct identity in the face of the multicultural ethos that prevails elsewhere in Canada. Intellectuals see it as protection against the incursion of religion in the public square, which they argue should be a faith-free zone.

The CAQ government’s move to replace the ERC with a new Quebec culture and citizenship course is similarly welcomed by nationalists as a blow to multiculturalism and an affirmation of Quebec’s dominant francophone identity. In a video promoting the new curriculum, Premier François Legault says the new course will lead to “a prouder Quebec.”

Mr. Legault’s re-election in 2022 is about as close as you can get to a sure thing in Canadian politics. And his plan to push ahead with the new course will certainly not hurt his chances.

Still, there is something deeply disturbing about the CAQ’s exploitation of Quebeckers’ cultural insecurity for political gain. It is one thing to express concern about the pernicious effects of cancel culture on democratic debate or the excesses of a multiculturalism that denies the existence of a core national identity. But it is quite another to depict critics of Bill 21 and the new citizenship course as an existential threat to the survival of the Quebec way of life, as Mr. Legault and his ministers do.

It almost makes you wonder whether Mr. Roberge even read his own op-ed.

Source: Opinion: Quebec and France join forces against cancel culture

Le Pen Joins French Conservatives Seeking Immigration Referendum

Here we go again, with a race to the bottom:

After trying to moderate her image for months, far-right leader Marine Le Pen went back to basics by casting a national conversation about immigration as a battle for the soul of France and renewing a pledge to hold a referendum on the issue if she defeats Emmanuel Macron next year.

“The April 2022 election will be about our civilization,” Le Pen said during a press conference on Tuesday. “Will France remain France, or be brushed aside by the uncontrolled torrent of massive migration flows that will wipe out our culture, our values, our way of life.”

Le Pen said she’d consult the French about changing the constitution to “drastically” reduce immigration. She pledged to introduce a law that will prevail over international treaties and allow her to breach European Union legislation if a majority of citizens backs the idea.

“What we are offering is a ready-for-use solution,” she said.

Several presidential hopefuls on the traditional right are seeking tougher rules on who is allowed to live in the country, including Michel Barnier and Xavier Bertrand.

And though Macron ran as a centrist in 2017, he has since become more conservative and his government has also talked about the need to control immigration. On Tuesday, it said it will reduce the number of visas granted to Algerians, Moroccans and Tunisians to protest their countries’ refusal to facilitate the return of nationals in “an irregular situation” in France.

But Le Pen’s harsher tone may be more the result of the threat posed by ultra-right media personality Eric Zemmour, who has been publicly toying with a run. He has previously demanded a referendum to overhaul immigration law as well as a short-term moratorium on entries. He links immigration to terrorism.

Le Pen is placing second in surveys of voting intentions, after Macron, though polls show support for Zemmour rising and cutting into her voter base. If Zemmour joins the crowded contest, he’d likely increase the chances Le Pen would be knocked out of the second round and throw the race wide open.

During the press conference, Le Pen said she wants to make it illegal for people from different countries to live in closed communities as a way of preserving their traditions and ban undocumented people from regularizing their situation. The Schengen accord, which allows free circulation for people in Europe, would need to be renegotiated, she said.

Source: Le Pen Joins French Conservatives Seeking Immigration Referendum

France cuts back visas for Maghreb nationals over immigration policy

Playing hardball and politics:

France will slash the number of visas available to nationals from Maghreb countries because of their governments’ refusal to take back illegal migrants sent home by the French authorities, government spokesman Gabriel Attal said on Tuesday.

Immigration is becoming a key campaign issue for the French presidential election set for April next year, with right-wing and far-right parties challenging centrist President Emmanuel Macron’s policies. Macron has not yet said whether he will stand for re-election.

Attal said the French government would halve the number of visas available to nationals from Algeria and Morocco and reduce those for Tunisians by almost a third.

“It is a decision that is made necessary as these countries do not accept back nationals whom we do not want and cannot keep in France,” he told French Europe 1 radio.

Far-right leader Marine Le Pen said on Monday she would call a referendum proposing drastic limits on immigration if she is elected president next year.

Le Pen said on France 2 television the referendum would propose strict criteria for entering French territory and for acquiring French nationality, as well as giving French citizens priority access to social housing, jobs and social security benefits. read more

In 2017, she made it to the second round of the presidential election, but was defeated by Macron, who won more than 66% of the vote.

Source: France cuts back visas for Maghreb nationals over immigration policy

France grants citizenship to 12,000 Covid frontline workers

Quicker than Canada (as of this week, only about 4,300 have applied out of 20,000 slots):

France has granted citizenship to more than 12,000 frontline workers whose jobs put them at risk during the Covid pandemic under a special fast-track scheme.

As well as speeding up the application process, which normally takes up to two years, the government also cut the residency requirement from five years to two.

“Frontline workers responded to the call of the nation, so it is right that the nation takes a step towards them,” said the citizenship minister, Marlène Schiappa. “The country pulled through thanks to them.

“I welcome our new compatriots to French nationality and thank them in the name of the republic. The country also thanks them.”

In September 2020, the interior ministry invited those who had “actively contributed” to fighting the Covid health crisis to apply for fast-track naturalisation. On Thursday, Schiappa said 16,381 had applied and 12,012 applications were approved.

Among them were health professionals, security and cleaning staff, those who looked after essential workers’ children, home help workers and refuse collectors, the minister announced.

John Spacey, a Briton, was one of those given fast-track nationality as a foreigner who had “proved their commitment to the republic” in the eyes of the ministry.

Spacey lives in the Creuse region in central France and works for an organisation that provides domestic care for elderly people. “It genuinely feels like a great honour to be offered citizenship,” he told the Local earlier this year.

“France has been very good to me since my arrival and has given me opportunities I could never have dreamed of before stepping off the Eurostar in 2016 – a home of my own, a wonderful relationship, a 20-year-old Peugeot 106, a 40-year-old Mobilette, the most satisfying job in the world and a very bright future.

“Soon, I’ll be able to vote, will regain my freedom of movement and will finally feel fully European once more, finally feel fully integrated into the nation I’ve already come to love like my own.”

Spacey said he also received a one-off bonus payment from the state “as a kind of merci for services rendered during the crisis … something for which I was very grateful and that I’d not expected, given I’d been paid for my work anyway”.

He added: “Then came another, far more unexpected, thank you – the chance to apply for French nationality six months earlier than would have been possible under the normal rules and to have the process fast-tracked. All for doing a job I love.”

In April 2020, French hospital staff and nursing home workers were awarded tax-free bonuses of between €1,000 and €1,500 as part of the government thank you for their work during the Covid-19 crisis.

In August 2020, France’s 320,000 home-care workers were given Covid-19 bonuses of up to €1,000.

Source: France grants citizenship to 12,000 Covid frontline workers

UK: How have Priti Patel’s previous pledges on immigration fared?

Of note (somewhat comparable issues with respect to calls to close the Canada-USA Safe Third Country Agreement “loophole” for asylum seekers between official points of entry):

The viability of Thursday’s announcement by Priti Patel that small boats carrying migrants across the Channel will be turned back to France by Border Force officials has been questioned by politicians on all sides, and by the immigration services union, lawyers and human rights organisations.

So it may be that its chances of actually being put into practice are slim. Here is a quick guide to what happened after previous high-profile announcements by the home secretary.

Small boat arrivals

In October 2019 Patel pledged to halve migrant crossings by the end of that month – at that time there had been more than 1,400 people crossing in small boats since the beginning of 2019. So far in 2021, 13,500 migrants have crossed the Channel, including 1,000 in the past two days.

The statement from the home secretary about turning small boats back mid-Channel crossing was not an official Home Office announcement. It is not clear whether or not a published policy will emerge.

Toufique Hossain, director of public law at Duncan Lewis solicitors, said: “It is difficult to see a legal basis for what is effectively collective expulsion. The desperate need to look tough on immigration may lead to unlawful and dangerous consequences.”

Offshoring asylum seekers

Reports emerged in June this year that the new immigration bill would include plans to hold asylum seekers in processing centres outside the UK. It is understood that officials working for the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office were tasked with exploring whether any other country would be receptive to accommodating asylum seekers who had sought sanctuary in the UK while their claims were processed. Australia adopted this controversial system in 2001 and Denmark has passed legislation enabling it to do the same. Countries such as Rwanda, along with Ascension Island and disused oil rigs, were mooted. Installing giant wave machines in the Channel was also mentioned in media briefings last October. Since then no more has been heard about these plans.

Sending small boat arrivals who passed through safe European countries back there

This was promised after the conclusion of the Brexit transition period at the end of 2020. But nobody has yet been sent back. The Home Office said that this category of asylum claims would be ruled inadmissible. According to Migration Observatory evidence this week to the joint committee on human rights, 4,500 notices of intent have been served since the start of 2021 relating to cases that may be considered inadmissible. But so far only seven cases have been declared as such and nobody has so far been returned to a European country post-Brexit.

Increased number of deportations

Deportations and enforced removals have declined year on year since 2012, with 3,300 enforced returns in 2020, 54% fewer than in 2019. While the sharp drop last year can be partly attributed to Covid, the steady year-on-year reduction cannot. The Home Office says the reduction is partly due to some of those in detention prior to deportation raising “issues”.

Tougher provisions in new immigration bill

The nationality & borders bill itself is subject to a legal challenge questioning the lawfulness of the consultation process. Even some of the Home Office’s key contractors such as the charity Migrant Help, which operates a helpline on behalf of the Home Office for asylum seekers, have been critical of the new bill, saying they believe it will damage the UK’s reputation as a world leader in its approach to human rights and social responsibility.

Source: How have Priti Patel’s previous pledges on immigration fared?

Rights groups take French racial profiling case to top body

Of note:

After months of government silence, leading rights organizations and grassroots groups took France’s first class-action lawsuit targeting the nation’s powerful police machine to the highest administrative authority Thursday, to fix what they contend is a culture of systemic discrimination in identity checks.

The 220-page file, chock full of examples of racial profiling by French police, was being delivered Thursday to the Council of State, the ultimate arbiter on the use of power by authorities. It was compiled by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Open Society Justice Initiative and three grassroots organizations that work with youth.

The NGOs allege that French police target Black people and people of Arab descent in choosing who to stop and check. Police officers who corroborate such accounts are among people cited in the file.

The groups behind the lawsuit contend the practice is rooted in a culture of systemic discrimination within the police with far-reaching consequences for people of .

“It’s a humiliating experience. You’re in the street, you’re frisked, patted down and questioned in front of everyone,” said Issa Coulibaly, head of Pazapas, a youth association in eastern Paris involved in the suit.

Instead of money for victims, the suit seeks deep reforms within law enforcement to ensure an end to racial profiling, including a change in a penal code that currently gives officers carte blanche to check IDs — with no trace that they have done so. Among other things, they also want an independent mechanism to lodge complaints and training for police officers.

The groups took the case to the Council of State after the government failed to meet a four-month deadline to respond to the opening salvo in the class-action suit.

The prime minister’s office and the justice and interior ministries were initially served notice of the suit in late January — the first step in a two-stage process in a French class-action case. The law gave them four months to open talks with the NGOs on how to meet their demands for change within the police, before the matter could go before a court.

Those who brought the action contend it is in the interest of authorities, including law enforcement, to improve the notoriously poor relationship between police and youth in some .

Antoine Lyon-Caen, the lead lawyer in the case, said it is the first time a class-action suit against the French state is going before the Council of State. He called the government silence “humiliating” for racial profiling victims.

“Lots of people suffer from these practices and the government didn’t even feel a need to say something,” he said in an interview.

Coulibaly said the official silence is in keeping with “institutional denial” of the problem. But he said this next legal step is a new dose of hope for change.

Children as young as 10 can be checked if they are Black or perceived as of Arab descent, said Coulibaly, a 41-year-old Black man who said he was subjected to numerous undue ID checks starting at the age of 14.

“It’s a reality for all working class and a reality for the poor and where there are people of immigrant origin,” he said.

French courts have found the state guilty of racial profiling in identity checks in the past, most recently in June when a Paris appeals court ruled that discrimination was behind police ID checks on three high school students of at a train station in 2017. The court convicted the French state of a “grave fault” and ordered reparations paid.

“The ID check is really the door for lots of things that can be very destructive in the life of a person,” Coulibaly said. “It can degenerate. After a 50th check in your life, the 10th in a week or the third check in a day, especially when you’re young, you have a tendency to react, to react badly.”

The Council of State has the power to order the French state to end such practices and make the requested changes, Lyon-Caen said. The law requires a decision in a “reasonable” time, but that could be a year or more, he said, noting that the unprecedent case takes the Council of State into uncharted territory.

Source: Rights groups take French racial profiling case to top body