Saturday, December 31, 2011

France Leads The Way

France is starting to get serious about immigration and the acculturation of immigrants.

France 24 December 30, 2011


France will be making it harder for foreigners to seek French citizenship as of January. Critics say the new requirements, which include tough language tests and allegiance to “French values”, are an electoral ploy that panders to the far right.

Foreigners seeking French nationality face tougher requirements as of January 1, when new rules drawn up by Interior Minister Claude Guéant come into force.

Candidates will be tested on French culture and history, and will have to prove their French language skills are equivalent to those of a 15-year-old mother tongue speaker. They will also be required to sign a new charter establishing their rights and responsibilities.

Note that most immigrants applying for naturalization only have to be able to write one very simple sentence in English and pass an examination consisting of 10 questions, of which they only have to get 6 correct. US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) at various times call the English language requirement knowledge of common words in the English language, or a 2nd, 3rd, or 4th grade command of English. They just are not certain. Unfortunately Congress has been of no help with only a vague "knowledge of English" requirement. A requirement continuously dumbed down over the years. But any immigrant over 50 years of age has no English language requirement.

Unlike in America, where naturalization is considered a right by the courts and USCIS and more designed to avoid deportation and qualify for more welfare benefits, in France it is now a serious political act of import for both the alien and the nation:

Becoming French is not a mere administrative step. It is a decision that requires a lot of thought”, reads the charter, drafted by France’s High Council for Integration (HCI). In a more obscure passage, the charter suggests that by taking on French citizenship, “applicants will no longer be able to claim allegiance to another country while on French soil”, although dual nationality will still be allowed.

Guéant, a member of President Nicolas Sarkozy’s ruling UMP party, described the process as “a solemn occasion between the host nation and the applicant”, adding that migrants should be integrated through language and “an adherence to the principals, values and symbols of our democracy”. He stressed the importance of the secular state and equality between women and men: rhetoric perceived largely as a snipe at Muslim applicants, who make up the majority of the 100,000 new French citizens admitted each year.

France is also looking to reduce overall immigration by a small, but significant number.

But the interior minister has taken a hard line on immigration, announcing plans to reduce the number of legal immigrants coming to France annually from 200,000 to 180,000 and calling for those convicted of felony to be expelled from the country.

A ten percent reduction in the number of immigrants would be good for the United States as well.

France is showing the way, again. A small start, but significant.

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