Despite widespread international criticism, France intends to dismantle Romani settlements and deport migrants back to their native countries.
A new campaign launched on July 28th has resulted in the deportation of hundreds of undocumented Roma migrants (also known as Gypsies), mainly from Romania and Bulgaria. The campaign also includes taking down 300 camps consisting of makeshift shelters and tents within the next three months. The government argues such camps are “sources of illegal trafficking, of profoundly shocking living standards, of exploitation of children for begging, of prostitution and crime.”
However U.N. Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) has condemned the government’s actions, contending that deporting an entire ethnic group is discriminatory, and that instead the government should look at each individual case. In addition, the UN claims the Roma are victims of “violence with a racist characteristic,” and the French government should instead try to integrate them into society.
The estimated 15,000 Roma in France are a mix of recent immigrants or “traveling people” who are part of established communities. They are permitted to enter France without a visa but must have work or residency permits to settle for an extended period of time.
Amnesty International reveals that they are singled out by housing laws to report periodically to the police and register with a municipality for three years before acquiring the right to vote. “Instead of scapegoating Roma and Travellers, France should focus on fully implementing its own legislation and provide adequate halting sites and protection of the housing rights of all,” Amnesty argues.
France is spending money on deporting thousands of families, as well as giving each a small sum to resettle in their native countries where they still face discrimination. It would seem wiser and more just to focus on fair, affordable housing, giving the Roma a chance to integrate and become productive citizens of French society.