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France to grant 'amnesty' to thousands of immigrant families

[JURIST] France intends to grant residency papers to thousands of immigrant families with children in French schools, government officials said Thursday. Many children and their parents faced deportation at the end of the French school year after a deportation moratorium was to expire, but French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy [BBC profile] last month told regional authorities to implement new citizenship criteria for the children of illegal immigrants. The standards favor granting citizenship to children who were born in France or who arrived before age 13, have been in French schools for two years, and have no link with their parents' country, though officials warn that not every child who seems to fit the criteria will be granted citizenship. Last month, Sarkozy called for changing a proposed immigration bill before the Senate to save some immigrant children from deportation [JURIST report].

The French National Assembly passed a conservative immigration bill [JURIST report] in May that tightens restrictions on unskilled, non-EU immigrants and requires immigrants to sign a pledge to learn French and to abide by French law. The National Assembly bill permits the expulsion of children with no ties to their parents' home countries, prompting immigration advocacy groups to petition the government for more flexibility in the residency criteria. AFP has more. Le Monde has local coverage.

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