The French government says nearly 7,000 illegal immigrants will benefit from a special one-off measure granting them permanent residency. Almost 30,000 people had applied for French nationality following an announcement by the Interior Ministry in June. It is believed many of those are with families whose children are already at school in France. During the course of a television interview, Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy declared the exact figure who would be allowed to settle was 6,924 and it was unlikely that the initiative would be repeated.
Residency rules were tightened after riots throughout France at the end of last year, the worst of which were seen in the more deprived immigrant communities. The stricter legislation has triggered protests from human rights groups.
“It confirms what we feared, that only 20 percent of people have been successful. That means a return to a marginal existence for the 80 percent majority. It will cause a lot of anger,” said Pablo Krasnopolsky, co-founder of an immigrant support network.
The debate gathered steam when police evicted hundreds of people from an area outside Paris last month. Some 200 are still camping in a gym, demanding they be given permanent housing.