On Thursday, France started flying foreign Gypsies, or Roma, back to Romania.
The plan had come under plenty of attack when it was announced, supposedly in reaction to rioting in Grenoble and Saint-Aignan after incidents where 2 young Roma were killed in encounters with police.
Initially, the figure of those to be deported was cited as around 700. So far, the reports are that about 100 have been sent on planes back to Romania, after receiving a payment of €100 to €300 from the government.
Where to begin…
There’s the racism. The echoes of Nazi round ups under the Vichy government. The wider issues of the Roma in Europe. The timing of this move with Sarkozy’s waning popularity. The political move to link crime with immigration. But I’ll just pick one thing to discuss:
As Voice of America reports, officials stress that Romanians are part of the EU and have the right to move about it freely:
“We are obviously, very concerned about any form of discrimination, our policies is always to promote full integration of the Roma population in Europe. Let me just remind that Roma people are just like any Europeans people, they are full European citizens, they have the right to free movement anywhere in the EU,” said [the European Commission said spokesman Matthew Newman] “…These are the rights that they have and they need to be respected. And all member states need ensure that these rights are respected.”
Yet France has controversially set up special restrictions for this ethnic group, an alarming move in and of itself. Reports the BBC:
The Roma are EU citizens, mostly from Romania or Bulgaria, but French law requires them to have a work permit and prove they have the means to support themselves if they intend to stay for more than three months.
They complain that the permits are difficult to get, and so they are often forced to live illegally.
Basically, France has singled out one group on the basis of ethnicity to deny them rights granted to the rest of Europeans. Read that again. It’s important.
Lest they be unduly demonized, let it be known France aren’t alone in their singling out of Roma. Spain, and the UK have created special restrictions and Italy also started deportations and a widespread “cataloging” of sorts.
Specifically, Spain decided to place a 2 year delay on Romanians (one of the top 3 largest immigrant groups in that country) being able to freely work there after their entry into the EU. Perhaps so they could continue to exploit their cheap labour for the then booming construction business. I’m just throwing that out there.
The French administration has been invoking provisions about restricting movement for the sake of public order and safety to expel Roma who are in “illegal” camps, over 50 of which have been dismantled so far. Sarkozy has been slumping in polls, and his recent immigration policy moves have been widely seen as a ploy to distract voters.
So they’re putting people on planes and sending them home. All perfectly legal, sure.
And it will also be perfectly legal when they come right back! It may be legal for the French government to give them a few hundred euro, put them on a plane and send them home, but it’s also legal for them to come back (that whole EU citizen thing mentioned above).
Its entirely posible that this whole political spectacle will not only prove to be racist and inflammatory but also useless, having no appreciable effect on the population of around 15,000 foreign born gypsies in France. What a fabulous use of taxpayer money!