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Polit Etrang. 1994 Autumn;59(3):719-29.

[French immigration policy].

[Article in French]



From the late nineteenth century through 1974, France permitted immigration to furnish workers and to compensate for the low level of fertility. Intense immigration from North Africa, the economic crisis of the 1970s, and other factors led to policy changes in 1974. French immigration policy since 1974 has fluctuated between guaranteeing foreigners equal rights regardless of their religion, race, culture, or national origin, and attempting to differentiate among immigrants depending on their degree of assimilability to French culture. From 1974 to 1988, France had five different policies regarding whether to permit new immigration and what to do about illegal immigrants. In July 1984, the four major political parties unanimously supported a measure in Parliament that definitively guaranteed the stay in France of legal immigrants, whose assimilation thus assumed priority. Aid for return to the homeland was no longer to be widely offered, and immigration of unskilled workers was to be terminated except for those originating in European Community countries. Major changes of government in 1988 and 1993 affected only the modalities of applying these principles. The number of immigrants has fluctuated since 1974. Unskilled workers, the only category whose entrance was specifically controlled by the 1984 measures, have declined from 174,000 in 1970 to 25,000 in the early 1990s. The number of requests for political asylum declined from 60,000 in 1989 to 27,000 in 1993, and in 1991, 15,467 persons were granted refugee status. The number of immigrants of all types permitted to remain in France declined from 250,000 or 3000 per year in the early 1970s to around 110,000 at present. Although the decline is significant, it appears insufficient to the government in power since 1993. Although migratory flows are often explained as the product of imbalance in the labor market or in demographic growth, the French experience suggests that government policies, both in the sending and receiving countries, are a more potent determinant.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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