French debate law that could strip immigrants of citizenship

French debate law that could strip immigrants of citizenship

This week, the French National Assembly is debating a new , which has been proposed by Nicolas Sarkozy’s right-wing UMP government, and would strip naturalised French citizens of their nationality for committing certain crimes.

The sponsor of the legislation, Immigration Minister Eric Besson, says the change is necessary “to produce good French citizens.” “Last year we gave French nationality to 108,000 foreigners,” he said. “Being a ‘good French person’ doesn’t mean denying your history, your roots or your French culture.”

If passed, the law would mean that the government could revoke French nationality from citizens who have been naturalized for less than 10 years and who have been convicted of killing or attacking a policeman or any public official. It would also allow France to deport foreigners, including EU citizens, for theft, aggressive begging or abusing the right to remain in France for 30 days without permission by leaving and re-entering the country to renew that right.

Socialist National Assembly member Bruno Le Roux said if the bill becomes law it would amount to “another step taken in the deterioration of republican principles.”

Even Etienne Pinte, a member of parliament from Sarkozy’s own UMP party, said the bill was an attempt to attract votes from disaffected supporters of the far-right National Front party ahead of presidential elections in 2012. He said he has proposed 40 amendments to the bill to “humanize” it; if they are not passed he intends to vote against it.

Human Rights Watch has also called on the French parliament to reject the bill and linked it to France’s mass deportation of Roma gypsies over the past month. “It is shocking that the French government is pushing for measures that clearly target Roma,” said Judith Sunderland. “It smacks of a populist move at the expense of the most discriminated against and vulnerable people in Europe today.”


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