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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: http://www.humanite.fr/non-m-ciotti...

by Emilien Urbach

No, Mr Ciotti: immigration is an advantage!

Translated Tuesday 18 November 2014, by Katie Gibson

On Thursday 6th November, while the Figaro went to town on the report by UMP member of parliament Éric Ciotti on the "costly downward spiral" of the French asylum system, across the channel, a study underlined quite the opposite, showing the impressive benefit (25 billion euros over 10 years) of immigration.

A team of researchers at the university of Lille have showed that immigrant workers brought 12.4 million euros to the State.

"A shocking report", "an explosive bill...". In the Figaro’s headlines on Thursday, UMP member of parliament Éric Ciotti lashed out once more at immigrants and, more precisely, at refugees. He has now presented to the commission for laws on national representation a report arguing against the right to asylum in France. For the president of the Alps-Maritime departmental council, foreigners, especially asylum seekers, cost too much. While the Assembly will consider the reform of the Immigration and Asylum Code (CESEDA) from mid-November, the populist right-wing of parliament claim it’s a plot: the State will hide from citizens the real cost of the French right to asylum...

Bernard Cazeneuve was already envisaging that the CESEDA reform would allow for "potential savings of 11 million euros" on the temporary benefits usually paid to asylum seekers during the assessment of their case. But for Éric Ciotti, the minister is lying about the figures and won’t go that far. The report flirts, moreover, with the most foul rhetorics. The immigration opponent, who has continually defended the idea of closing the border between Italy and France, implies in this document that the vulnerable foreigners steal aid destined for the poorest French citizens. According to him, the current system causes, through the processing procedures for the homeless and the poorly-housed, "the eviction of the traditional beneficiaries of these services". Is this a call for the establishment of a sort of national preference in the fight against social insecurity?

Improving the reception of immigrants

While on Thursday the conservative press had a field day with Ciotti’s report, across the channel a recent study has on the contrary provided evidence for the... "positive" aspect of immigration on national finances. Conducted by University College London, the study claims that the arrival of foreigners from the European Union has contributed no less than 25.4 billion euros to the British government! Reason enough to call into question the xenophobic rhetoric coming from part of the British political class on the subject of the contribution of immigrants "to taxes and the financing of benefits" notes one of the authors, Dr. Christian Dustmann. From 2010, in France, several reports have already noted the positive balance of public finances due to immigration. A team of researchers at the University of Lille, led by Dr Xavier Chojnicki, have showed that immigrant workers have contributed 12.4 million euros to the State. Foreigners receive close to 47.9 billion euros in social benefits, against 60.3 billion paid in taxes and social security contributions. Moreover, in the same year, the Pensions advisory council announced "the entry of 50,000 new immigrants each year would allow the pension deficit to be reduced by 0.5 GDP points.

Éric Ciotti can play on the threat of immigration as much as he wants, France needs foreigners and a great number of immigrants, for their part, need France’s protection.

There is not, however, any doubt that the French asylum system must evolve. A migration policy based on providing a better reception for immigrants could absorb a number of its additional costs. As it is, the time taken to process cases is too long, due to a lack of staff. Some refugees sometimes wait nearly a year and a half before obtaining a response to their request for protection. What’s more, there is a lack of places for asylum seekers at immigration centres (CADA). Half of refugees waiting to be processed don’t have access to a centre. This, in effect, costs greatly when institutions must house them in hotels. This, above all, creates further difficulties in providing health and social care.

According to Gérard Sadik, from Cimade, an organisation dedicated to refugees, a further 50,000 spaces at immigration centres are needed, while the Minister of the Interior is only planning 30,000. The community worker highlights the need for more staff at the French Office for the Protection of Refugees and Stateless Persons (OFPRA) in order to reduce waiting times. "France must make an effort, because its right to asylum system is on its last legs" insisted Gérard Sadik, Thursday on Radio France Internationale (RFI).

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