Sunday, September 5, 2010

Sarko, son of Petain?

Immigration has recently been a major topic of discussion in the United States, especially during elections and with the new Arizona laws.  But it is also a topic that is often debated here in France, especially recently during Sarkozy's presidency with the discussions of national identity, and most recently, with Sarkozy's new anti-crime proposals.

I've been hearing a lot about the new anti-crime proposals, which were announced in July, and I must say that I am actually shocked by this latest affront on immigrants in France.  When you hear the term "anti-crime proposals," you think these are proposals that are intended to fight crime in France.  However, I would more accurately label these proposals "anti-immigrant proposals."

One of these proposals would revoke French citizenship from any naturalized immigrant guilty of certain crimes such as polygamy or attacking a police officer.  I just find this idea appalling; the fact that Sarkozy things France should be able to give out citizenship and then take it away if they decide they don't like the person's behavior.  Can you really do this?  Does France have the right to declare someone a citizen only to later decide they no long want that person? Can, and should, citizenship be taken this lightly?

According to Sarkozy this is possible, it should be done, and it would appear that he believes this is only logical.  He seems to believe that French citizenship is a privilege, going so far as to say "one must earn French nationality and be worthy of it.  Anyone who fires on an agent enforcing order no longer deserves to be French."  However, why should a naturalized immigrant who has worked hard to become French be treated any differently than someone who was born in France to a French family and therefore automatically is French?  If "one must earn French nationality and be worthy of it," shouldn't this apply for those who are born French too?  In fact, they haven't even done anything to earn French citizenship, and they very often don't show themselves to be worthy of it either.  If I go through the trouble to become a naturalized citizen, I think that shows an additional dedication to being French that natural born citizens have never had to show, and often do not feel.  If Sarkozy is willing to take the step of revoking citizenship from naturalized immigrants, it seems only logical that the same will eventually be proposed for natural born citizens.  Once one is French, one is French.  It shouldn't matter how that Frenchness was obtained.  If one can lose their Frenchness for commiting a crime, it should apply to all citizens, not just one group of citizens.  Natural born citizens commit the same crimes as naturalized immigrants, therefore they should be expected to uphold the same laws.  If these proposals are ennacted, natural born citizens should also risk losing their citizenship seeing as Sarkozy said that "anyone who fires on an agent enforcing order no longer deserves to be French."

To me, it seems that allowing this proposal will eventually lead to a number of other affronts on immigrants in France and that this is a very risky move for a country that already has so many other immigration problems.  This proposal will only further highlight the separation between natural born citizens and naturalized citizens in France, which in the end will almost certainly lead to more crime, rather than reducing crime.

I'm just shocked that the French president would take citizenship so lightly.  Once citizenship is earned, it is supposed to be final.  Saying that it can be taken back is dangerous.  If France wants to better control who receives French citizenship, they should make additional regulations and requirements for obtaining citizenship in the first place, but once it is obtained, it should not be able to be revoked.  Once someone has been chosen, they should not be able to be considered undesireable.  Why should I ever take the time and use the energy to get French citizenship if I believe that one day it can be taken back?  By making it possible to revoke citizenship for certain crimes, the doors are opened to coming up with additional reasons to revoke citizenship from naturalized immigrants, and eventually French citizenship will lose its appeal and its value.

In my opinion, a better way to control or even prevent immigrant crime, especially attacks on police officers, protests and violent riots, would be to look for ways to close the gap between immigrants and natural born citizens, rather than looking for ways to make this gap wider and further highlighting the extensive immigration problems that exist in France.  Immigrants are already treated very poorly and often find themselves struggling to find jobs and to be treated equally and this proposal would only make the situation worse.  Once someone has earned citizenship, they should be treated as equal to natural born citizens, not as being forever inferior.   Whatever happened to "liberté, egalité, fraternité?"

Perhaps Sarkozy should remember his roots, after all he comes from an immigrant family.  His father was born in Hungary and fled the country in 1945, eventually settling in Marseille in 1948.  However, he didn't ask for French citizenship until the 1970s, remaining in France as a "stateless person" until this time.  I think Sarkozy's background should encourage him to be more understanding and accepting of immigrants and their situations, but instead he seems to have forgotten this background, often adopting anti-immigrant policies.  I also think it is interesting that his father lived in France for such a long period without citizenship, only remaining with the legal status of being "stateless" which is the same status of the Roma people who Sarkozy works hard to expel from France (just recently having expelled 8,300 Romas).  His father was able to remain here with this status, why should the Romas not be given the same rights.  After all, had their been a "Sarkozy" in office when his father was here, perhaps he would have been expelled too, and Sarkozy would never have had the opportunity to become President of the French Republic.

Overall, I must say I am extremely dissappointed in Sarkozy's constantly anti-immigrant policies, and in my opinion these most recent proposals may be his biggest and most shocking affront ever on immigrants.  What do you think?  Is citizenship really something that can be given and taken away?  Does this go against the most basic French values of liberté, egalité, fraternité?  What would this mean for the future of immigrants in France?  And would these proposals somehow devalue French citizenship?

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this post!
    Very educational and I agree with you 100% !