Thursday, November 10, 2005

France prepares to deport foreigners guilty of rioting :: NYT
'it was easier to find informal work without it'

PARIS, Nov. 9 - Struggling to restore order after nearly two weeks of nightly street battles and car burnings, the French government demanded Wednesday that foreigners found guilty of rioting be expelled from the country, regardless of whether they are in France legally or illegally.
. . .
The government's imposition of curfews has been widely popular here, and when Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy called for the swift deportations, he was applauded in Parliament.

Mr. Sarkozy said 120 foreigners, some here legally, had been found guilty of rioting since the unrest began outside Paris on Oct. 27.

"I have asked the prefects to deport them from our national territory without delay, including those who have residency visas," he said.

Human rights groups objected, saying such "collective expulsion" was both illegal and needlessly provocative.

It does not go beyond existing French law, however, according to an immigration lawyer, St├ęphane Halimi. Foreigners convicted of a crime are subject to losing their residence permits, and they are often deported after serving their sentences in French jails.

"If he can prove that these people constitute a grave threat to public order, he can certainly do it," Mr. Halimi said.

Nevertheless, Mr. Sarkozy's unyielding tone dramatized yet again the deep gulf between the rioters - most of whom are teenagers of North African or West African origin - and mainstream French society.

Many of these young people were born in France and are thus French citizens. But some older immigrants never obtained citizenship because they were ineligible or, in a few cases, because it was easier to find informal work without it.
. . .
The euro slipped against the dollar again on Wednesday, as traders worried about a contagion of violence in Europe.

The French economy itself seems unlikely to suffer much, aside from a potential drag on consumer confidence if the mayhem goes on, according to Nicolas Sobczak, an economist at Goldman Sachs in Paris. More significantly, he said, it could influence France's future economic policy, shifting the emphasis away from budget-cutting to increased social spending.

"The riots will probably change the focus to more social programs and better treatment of the suburbs," Mr. Sobczak said. "The main consequences of this will be political, not economic."

It will be unfortunate for the future of France if there are not consequences for economic policy.

More social programs for the suburbs are a salve. It does not get at the root problems. Some of those problems are social - France is a pot, but it's not melting. Others are economic, and have to do with excess government intervention into employment relations that lead to unemployment, principally amongst those at the bottom of the economic ladder - the foreign immigrants. This in turn only exacerbates the various social reasons the foreign immigrants are not being integrated into the fabric of French society.

In the NYT quote above there's a wonderfully unwitting hint of the heavy hand of government regulation of employment relations : "older immigrants never obtained citizenship because they were ineligible or, in a few cases, because it was easier to find informal work without it."

Informal work is simply work that avoids the radar of government regulation. Why accept work in the informal sector? Because employers can't afford to hire a low-skilled worker and provide all the mandated benefits the government requires.

Remember the Polish plumber.

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