More Jobs for Displaced Romas as France Tries to Get Them Out

Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault announced Wednesday that the number of job sectors available to Roma migrants in France will be expanded to include 150 new work sectors. Along with this new policy, the Prime Minister also announced that the government will abolish a tax that employers must currently pay if they hire a Roma worker. Sometimes that tax can be as high as 1,800 euros, or around $2,200.

The 15,000 Roma migrants currently in France hail mostly from Romania, with a smaller number from Bulgaria. They often face a wide variety of prejudices and live in small encampments throughout France. French officials have attempted to push for assimilation or expulsion in recent months.

Earlier in August, under relatively new French president Francois Hollande, two Roma camps were dismantled near the city of Lille and 240 people volunteered to return to Romania, after being paid 300 euros to leave. Interior Minister Manuel Valls stood behind the policy to remove camps considered to be unsanitary, unhealthy and therefore illegal. He also claimed that the goal was to try and provide housing for especially vulnerable people, but that policy doesn’t appear to have gone into effect yet.

The camp demolition and explusion policies drew quite a range of criticisms from France’s EU neighbors, who called the voluntary exits “expulsions in disguise,” the BBC reports. Marie Higelin, who works with a French charity, criticized the conflicting policies of the French government:

When you talk about giving people work and at the same time say you are clearing illegal camps, it is nonsense… I don’t see how these poor people can be in this street one day, then in another…and then you tell them, go to work.

The new policies are intended to encourage greater assimilation into French society and to ease the current labor and residential restrictions that surround Roma groups. Many critics consider France’s policies to be discriminatory. Roma migrants are often pushed to the margins of cities like Paris and Lille, and have difficulty finding employment or access to housing.

Prime Minister Ayrault stated that the easing of job sector restrictions and the slashing of the employment tax were initiatives set in motion for humanitarian purposes. But he also maintained that the government would continue to dismantle unsanitary camps and continue to stop the exploitation of children, ABC news notes.

Unfortunately, the current easing of restrictions might only serve as a token gesture. A vast number of Roma people currently in France live in constant fear of being moved from their camps or expelled from the country, with very little resources to rely upon. They must also contend with police raids and discrimination. Euro News quoted one young Roma boy who said, “Why do you want us out? You and the police. They want us out.”

Clearly the strained relationship between the French government and Roma migrants will continue to produce unrest in a country that currently has a 10 percent unemployment rate.

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Mary L.
Mary L5 years ago

Spend generations having your children stolen, women raped, hounded and harassed beaten and robbed and your people will become what they must to survive.

Bigotry is everywhere and unless and until there are human and humane solutions this isn't going to change.

VĂ©sanie V.
Cecile H.5 years ago

I see some people confuse those Roma with Gypsies (I am not sure it is the right word in english…). Gipsies who live in France are mostly french and mostly settled. These "Roma" came recently from East (and are still worse treated in Romania or Bulgaria).
At least, their children are sent to school here in France and themselves are treated and cured for free. Unfortunately they don't try to find work, and anyway there is already no work for french people… We have much more than 10% unemployed, but the governement knows how to falsify statistics.

Martha Eberle
Martha Eberle5 years ago

As I understand it, the Romas are clannish, and want to live in their own encampments. They are proud people and proud of their heritage as Romas. My opinions are gleaned through readings, and I may not be accurate in my "facts."

There should be no restrictions on which jobs they can apply for, if they have the skills to do them. The Romas have been thrown out of many countries over the years. The policies that are taking place in France are discriminatory, no matter what whitewash name is used.

Juliet Defarge
judith sanders5 years ago

Well, I just hate it when I can see both sides of an issue. Obviously, the Roma haven't been able to afford to buy land in most countries. When they do own a bit of land, their ability to use modern farming methods is practically nil. I'm sorry to say my experiences with them have been close to those of Ernest R. I think it will come down to paying the parents to let their kids remain in school- in the same district- until they are at least 17, to try to break the cycle of theft, scams, and prostitution.

Marianna B Molnar


Lynn Squance
Lynn Squance5 years ago

Roma have been taken the brunt of restrictive policies for centuries, and as such, have adapted their ways. Each year in May, Roma from all over Europe migrate to Arles in the Camargue, Provence for their festival 'Les Deux Soeurs de la Mer'. Along the way, some pick up work while others find work after the celebration. But the Roma seem to be known, appropriately or not, by the expression 'gypsies and thieves'.

During WWII, Hitler included Roma in his final solution, sending some to labour camps, but most to the death camps.

Perhaps what is needed is to down with these people to find out what they want to do, and to work with them instead of against thme.

Marie W.
Marie W5 years ago

The Roma or Gypsys are everywhere in Europe and no one seems to know how to cope.

Steve R.
Steve R5 years ago

Hmmm - seems the USA isn't the only country that has a "migrant" problem.

What's with this idea some people have that they can simply impose themselves on another country and expect to be given special treatment?

It's not France's problem that these people are "displaced" or whatever from Romania. Nor is it the USA's problem that South Americans are "displaced" or whatever from their countries.

It's time for governments to say ENOUGH!

Ernest Roth
Ernest R5 years ago

@ Jasna G. “It is cruel of you to say they are not adaptable”. They are certainly adaptable.Roma children from other countries swarm pedestrians who find their wallets missing. When arrested these children openly express their contempt for authority that characterizes the Roma. That contempt endured even in Nazi concentration camps where they would refuse cooperation to the death, although they are loyal to their “kings” or bosses who have luxury villas in Romania. They are unpopular because they make their living by theft, scams and trickery as well as fortune telling and live by preference together in squatters camps when not in nomadic mode. A few have given in to government pressure to live in available housing and take employment. It has to bew obvious that those are not the Roma in Italian and French newsreels. Beware of Roma visiting your retail establishments.

Michael Kirkby
.5 years ago

I know many Euros here who when the Romany are mentioned go off like a major starburst at a 4th of July celebration. The vituperation is quite interesting to put it mildly.