Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Les sans papiers

This past weekend, the Brit and I were walking around exploring my new neighborhood a bit when we came upon a group of people with various tarps up. My first thought was that they were breaking down a street market, but as we continued down the street I saw several signs. The people were sans papiers or without papers - immigrants who are in France without legal status. This was a few days before the French government disbanded the immigrant camp near Calais known as “the jungle”. The people we encountered had signs declaring that they’d gone 18 months as sans papiers without regularisation.

I occasionally whinge about the annoyances of having to renew my carte de sejour every year, however seeing these people reminded me how fortunate I am in having been able to come to France legally. There was a brief period after grad school when my legal status in France was questionable. But I had a place to live and I knew if things didn’t work out I could pack up and go home to a comfortable life. How many of the sans papiers can say the same?

Q&A: Calais camp migrants' rights

In pictures: Calais camp cleared

Police clear French migrant camp

French police bulldoze immigrant camp near Calais

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