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France debates DNA tests for would-be immigrants

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France debates DNA tests for would-be immigrants


French plans to DNA test would-be immigrants to prove family ties have been attacked by human rights’ groups and left-wing MPs. New laws to tighten up immigration have been debated by MPs in Paris. Immigration was one of the issues which propelled President Sarkozy into power. He intends to send home 25,000 illegals this year alone.

The particular proposal making headlines is DNA tests to prove that someone hoping to come to France is actually related to the person sponsoring his application. For example, a father, mother or other close family member.

The bill has been put forward by Thierry Mariani, a right-wing member of the government: “There is a real problem with fraud. We know for certain that in certain countries in Asia and Africa… Italy has a list, Belgium too. The sad fact is the facts themselves are often not correct, because civil servants are badly-paid, and because corruption is rife, it’s easy to buy false papers.”

But the critics have cried foul, saying the proposals discriminate against foreigners. Geneticist Axel Khan agrees: “It’s somewhat immoral, because here in France, we have accepted for years that the meaning of family is not necessarily a biological issue; in other words, a direct genetic link.”

DNA tests to prove family ties already exist in several EU countries. They are often used by would-be immigrants to bolster their applications when crucial documents are missing. Gemechis Bobo comes from Ethiopia, and agreed to take the test to strengthen his bid to enter France.

“This DNA technique is very important,” he said. “For example, it may open a door for other legal immigrants to come to France, and block the way for illegals. I personally support it.”

The downside could be the cost of around 400 euros per test, payable by the applicant himself in most countries. As for the French themselves, three out of four support a tougher line on immigration.

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