FECL 41 (February 1996):


Legal immigration is on a significant decrease in France, an annual report from DPM, the French population and migration board, shows. The report, however, fails to assess the development of illegal immigration.

The document is based on the statistic figures of 1994. But it is believed that the trend towards reduced legal immigration continued, if not accelerated, in 1995 as a result of the gradual implementation of the "Pasqua laws" on immig-ration (see FECL No.35: "Fear and suspicion: the effects of anti-immigration policies"; No.18: "CONSTITUTIONAL COUNCIL ANNULATES PROVISIONS OF "PASQUA BILL" ON IMMIGRATION"; No.17: "'IMMIGRATION ZERO': PASQUA'S ANTI-IMMIGRATION PACKAGE VOTED BY PARLIAMENT" and "PASQUA POLICY DRAWS PROTESTS FROM MANY QUARTERS").

The 1994 drop mainly concerns permanent immigration (one year and more). Between 1993 and 1994, the number of permanent residence permits dropped by 30 per cent (1993: 89,000; 1994: 61,300). Half of these immigrants came from Africa and a quarter from Asia. 7,000 persons were granted refugee status and 44,600 arrived on family grounds.

The report shows that foreigners are more affected by unemployment than French people. While the number of unemployed increased by 12 per cent in France in between 1993-94, it grew by 24 per cent (an additional 75,000 persons) for foreigners in the same period. While foreigners constitute only 6.3 per cent of the active population of France, they represent 12.5 per cent of the total number of unemployed.

Forcible departures of foreigners also increased in 1994. The number of expulsions increased from 722 in 1993, to 1153 in 1994. The number of ordered "returns to the border" dropped by 2,000 in the same period, but the number of such returns actually carried out has increased, with more than 11,000 persons sent back to the border in 1994, as against an average 7-9000 per year between 1987 and 1993. [Figures provided by a Parliamentary Committee on illegal immigration indicate that harsher action is also being taken at the borders: thus at the French-Italian border alone, 14,000 foreigners were turned away upon entry in 1995, as against 9,600 in 1994].

Commenting on the DPM report in the newspaper, La Croix, Antoine Fouchet writes: "All these figures show that the objective of the `Pasqua laws' - limiting immigration - is on the way of being achieved. But the report of the DPM assesses neither clandestine immigration (that can be a way for circumventing the arsenal of legislation) nor breaches of human rights (namely separated couples and families) committed in order to obtain the outcome of 1994".


Source: La Croix, 1.1.96, VSD, 21/22.1.96.