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France – undocumented immigration

France proposes closing companies that hire clandestine immigrants

Article published on the 2009-11-23 Latest update 2009-11-23 13:04 TU

Undocumented workers on strike at at construction site outside of Paris.(Photo: AFP)

Undocumented workers on strike at at construction site outside of Paris.
(Photo: AFP)

The French ministers of labour and immigration have joined forces to propose new measures to crack down on the demand side of illegal immigration. These range from fines to outright closure if companies are found to be knowingly employing undocumented workers.

Undocumented immigrants are exploited by human trafficking cartels, Minister of Immigration Eric Besson said, but this practice is encouraged by the fact that “they find employers and exploiters on our territory who abuse their situation.”

Taking a page out of the American strategy to combat illegal immigration, Besson said Sunday that he will submit a bill to crack down on those who employ undocumented immigrants.

Xavier Darcos, the Minister of Labour, said that the proposed law would give local authorities the power to fine, shame and eventually shut down businesses employing undocumented immigrants.

The law would target the restaurant, janitorial and construction industries, which are said to be particularly abusive of undocumented workers, paying less than minimum wage, refusing minimum time off and firing workers injured on the job.

These exploitative conditions have already pushed thousands of undocumented workers to go on strike in and around the French capital to claim their rights as workers, regardless of their immigration status.

Work carried out by undocumented immigrants is estimated to be worth four per cent of GNP or 60 billion euros, Darcos said, pointing out that this was the equivalent of the annual budget for national education.

The opposition Socialists don’t subscribe to this government strategy, which started by going after the supply half of the equation by setting deportation quotas and now moves to the demand side by going after employers.

They propose a mass regularisation of undocumented immigrants, like those recently carried out in Spain and Italy, arguing that these people are an economic necessity because they work at jobs no one else will.

Speaking on French radio over the weekend, Vincent Peillon, who represents the party in the European parliament, added that it’s a moral imperative.

“So that France is loyal to its image – a soldier for liberty, a country that defends human rights – I believe that today we have to be generous and welcome these people,” said the politician who has already announced his intention to seek the Socialist nomination for President in 2012.