Anyone in the US, Britain or elsewhere who believes that expelling people is an easy way to reduce illegal immigration should read this excellent article in Saturday’s Guardian about France’s flailing drive to deport illegal immigrants. In a chilling echo of the Second World War, when many brave French families hid Jews from the Gestapo, their descendants are giving refuge to the sans papiers that interior minister and presidential hopeful Nicolas Sarkozy has pledged to deport.
Sarkozy clearly has no chance of expelling more than a handful of the
300,000 or so illegals believed to be living in France, but his
crackdown is still causing immense suffering, as families are broken up, shuttled around, and made to live in constant fear. But then his real aim is not to throw them all out: it is to curry favour with far-right voters in
next year’s presidential election.
A similar noxious logic applies in tomorrow’s US Congressional elections. Vulnerable Republican candidates do not seriously believe that the US can stick all the country’s 12 million illegal residents in cattle carts and send them south, but threatening to do so should still win them some crucial votes and give them a glimmer of hope of clinging on to power.