France's Immigration Lessons For America

By: Rachel Marsden

Republican Arizona Governor Jan Brewer may not know it, but she has a soul mate in her efforts to control her state’s immigration problems in light of federal government inaction. French President Nicolas Sarkozy has also faced accusations of racism and fascism in defending the interests of the territory he was elected to protect and serve. Like Brewer, he’s struggling with a legislative straightjacket imposed by a higher level of government – in his case, the European Union. If Brewer has been attacked, Sarkozy has arguably seen far worse. The lesson? Just keep going.

As has been the case since at least World War II, France represents the frontline of various military and cultural battles, if only because of its greater proximity to so many countries with which it clashes ideologically and culturally. Worse, it has to cooperate with many of these same countries under the E.U. umbrella, even when it’s against the self-interest of France to do so.

Take one of the hallmarks of French summer, for example: Each year, Eastern European gypsies take advantage of the favourable weather to move to France, setting up ramshackle campsites wherever they see fit – sometimes even along the Seine River. Normally immigrants from the newest E.U. member states like Romania and Bulgaria, moving to the more established ones for longer than three months, require proof of income or a work permit – but apparently these folks feel they’re exempt from all that because they own a camper or a tent.

Sarkozy’s Interior Minister rounded them up, put a few hundred Euros in their pockets, presumably so they could buy something nice at the Duty Free, then shipped them back to whatever country they claimed to be from. The Vice-President of the European Commission said she never thought Europe would see that kind of targeting and rounding up of certain ethnic groups in the wake of the Second World War – which is a diplomatic way of basically calling Sarko a Nazi. He responded by telling her she’s welcome to invite them to move to her country, Luxembourg, and reiterated that France will continue to dismantle illegal camps, regardless of the ethnicity of its inhabitants. Here's hoping that Air Roma charters are now gearing up for yet another seasonal run, in spite of the E.U.'s resolution against it and Sarkozy last year.

In another act of cultural defence, France’s new law banning full burqas in public places has come into effect – thankfully, just in time for bikini season. As French police have been assuming their new role as ghostbusters, Islamic women have been floating around looking to get caught so they can appeal the law to the higher E.U. court. Regardless of whether the law will ultimately be overturned at the European level, it’s in full effect for the time being – and that means something. As does the fact that the E.U. wasn’t able to frighten the French into not enacting it.

Most recently, a mass influx of migrants from conflict zones in Africa has further tested French sovereignty. Waves of immigrants from Tunisia and Libya are arriving on Italy’s Lampedusa island – an entry point for migrants into Europe. Five thousand Tunisian refugees arrived within a two day period during the month of February, with thousands more arriving since. This prompted a memo from Sarkozy’s Interior Minister, Claude Gueant, to French authorities reminding them of visa requirements, and instructing that all immigrants without proper paperwork are to be sent back to their European country of landing – in this case, Italy. Italy responded by calling the French position “hostile”, and issuing E.U. visas to all landed refugees, so they’d be free to go anywhere they wished on European soil, and forcing this unchosen immigration upon France in the process in the name of E.U. solidarity.

For his efforts in safeguarding French culture, Gueant, a former director general of the national police who has only been on the job a few months, has scored himself a lawsuit from racial discrimination watchdog “SOS Racisme”. At issue is a statement he made during a public appearance: “In 1905, there were very few Muslims in France. Today, there are between 5 and 6 million. The increase of a certain number of adherents and a certain number of behaviors cause problems.” The suit also cites a statement Gueant made in a newspaper: “The French have the feeling that uncontrolled migration changes their environment…They’re not xenophobic, but they want France to stay France.”

If the minister in charge of addressing the interplay between immigration and cultural impact can’t even do so without getting hauled into court, then you know something’s way off. So if Jan Brewer and Arizona and other states can learn anything from Sarkozy and his government, it’s to keep attacking, challenging and defending. Expect to get shot down, but get back up and keep moving forward. Do what every leftist special interest group has done in the interest of furthering their cause: keep challenging and pushing until the taboo cracks. It’s not like the left ever let a court ruling stop them. That’s how things got to this point in the first place.