French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, whose controversial immigration bill is awaiting Senate approval, has asked for leniency for the children of illegal immigrants who were born in France and go to school there. Under the legislation, up to 10,000 children could face extradition at the end of the school year.
Facing growing pressure from human rights groups and the general public, Sarkozy is asking for some 800 families to be allowed to stay. The legislation, which is expected to pass, has caused outrage among human rights organisations. It would make it easier to extradite illegal refugees and end immigrants’ automatic right to a long-term residence permit after ten years in France.
Sarkozy has urged local authorities to spare immigrants whom he describes as “well integrated”. These are people whose children were born in France, go to school there and do not speak their language of origin.