About 100 French riot police officers swooped down on an encampment of Roma here at 7 a.m. Thursday, taking names and filling out expulsion orders. Fully padded, but without helmets, the officers were aggressive but polite, accompanied by a Romanian policeman and three interpreters.The thing about the Roma (also known as Gypsies, although the term is not favoured by them) is that they are, unlike in our own immigrant issues, entering France completely legally, but in many cases are overstaying the three-month window to find a full-time job. On the other hand, there is discrimination against them, making it difficult to find such a job, although life is often preferable in France than from where they have come. As citizens of countries such as Romania and Bulgaria, they are completely free to enter the country, but are subject to special rules since those countries have only recently come into the European Union. These rules are largely set to expire in 2014. But for now, people are being thrown out largely because of pressure on the government to remove a minority seen as foreign and distasteful.
Mihai Lingurar, 37, and his wife, Rada-Soma Rostach, were ordered to leave France within a month for overstaying their three-month allowance as Romanian citizens and being unable to prove that they had full-time work. Their fourth child, however, Marc, 5 months old, is in intensive care at a hospital here, on the northeastern edge of Paris. Marc weighs about 8 pounds and has been in and out of a coma.
The police were not interested in hearing about Marc this morning, Mr. Lingurar said, through an interpreter. But he will get help to challenge the family’s expulsion, citing medical grounds, from Doctors of the World, said Livia Otal, 29, a Romanian who works with the Roma for the nonprofit organization.
Mass expulsions based on ethnicity violate European Union law, Mr. Kushen said, and the failure of France to do individual assessments of each case — as opposed to cursory examinations of papers by the police — also violates European Union rules.Another problem is that there are plenty of Roma who are French citizens, and it's easy to confuse them with their foreign brethren. And the government has vowed to break up camps used by the citizen Roma as well, targeting their transient existence.
European countries have always struggled with Roma in their areas, attempting to regulate, expel, or in the case of Nazi Germany, annihilate the Roma there.
It is one thing to expel people who have over-stayed their regulated time. It is another to do mass expulsion of people because of their ethnicity, especially because you want to be re-elected.
The article examines a lot of the factors contributing to this, and certainly, because of living on the fringes for centuries and their transient existence, the Roma's reputation has not totally been baseless, as it's hard for them to hold down a normal 9-5 job, given the prejudice and the travelling, but overall I think they should be left in peace, and certainly each case should be handled individually, such as the couple whose son is ill who are mentioned in the article.
Of course, I'm not French, so I don't think my opinion matters much to the Sarkozy government.