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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Sans-papiers. Point de vue

by Marie Barbier

Undocumented Workers: Interviews with Demonstrators

Translated Thursday 3 December 2009, by Gene Zbikowski and reviewed by Bill Scoble

Chanting “We’re staying here, we live here, legalization of all undocumented immigrants!” 10,000 people (2,700 according to the police) demonstrated yesterday in Paris, marching from the Jardin du Luxembourg to the Immigration Ministry, in answer to a call issued by the collective Unis contre une immigration jetable (United against throw-away immigration). The bulk of the march was made up of undocumented immigrants, who have been striking since October 12 to obtain their legalization.

Our movement will continue, stronger than ever.

Modibo Traoré, a spokesman for the striking undocumented workers: “We have come here to condemn this half-assed [ministerial] circular which in no way responds to our demands. Our movement will continue stronger than ever. Already, there are 5,500 of us on strike, manning 60 picket lines. We are more than determined, and nothing will cause us to lower the intensity [of our struggle]. We also want to condemn the attacks on the right to strike, with the boss just needing to make a simple phone call to have a picket line lifted, without any court decision.”

Besson’s circular is disinformation.

Antonin, a student, age 22: “I have come to support the undocumented workers who have been on strike for six weeks. It is about time that their demands were met. These workers have been living in France for years and they are obliged to live in hiding and are subject to all the pressures of the employers. Besson’s circular is disinformation; there isn’t anything new in it. Requiring five years’ obligatory residence continues to exclude workers in the underground economy and Algerians and Tunisians.”

They’re trying to pit people against one another.

Karima, a youth worker, age 33: “I feel ashamed of the way undocumented workers are treated in France. These are human beings, we should help them and give them work and residence papers. This government is continually stigmatizing not just immigrants, but also the poor and minorities. It’s the same thing with the debate on national identity, they’re trying to pit people against one another. Unfortunately, some French people fall into the trap... Look at today’s demonstration, not very many people have come out to support them...”

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