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France grants amnesty to 7,000 immigrants; advocacy groups disappointed

[JURIST] France [JURIST news archive] will grant amnesty to 6,924 illegal immigrants [JURIST news archive] with school-age children, French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy [official profile, in French; BBC profile] announced Monday. Even though thousands more had applied for amnesty [JURIST report], Sarkozy said in a television interview that the applications approved represent the "final figure." The Education Without Borders Network (RESF) [advocacy website] and other groups criticized the amnesty plan as "totally arbitary" - an assertion that Sarkozy denied. The criteria favored immigrants with at least one child who was born in France or who arrived before age 13; has been in French schools for two years; and has no link with their parents' country.

Sarkozy announced the limited amnesty plan in July [JURIST report], a month after the French parliament passed a conservative immigration bill [JURIST report] that set off protest marches [JURIST report]. The new legislation tightens restrictions on unskilled, non-EU immigrants and requires immigrants to sign a pledge to learn French and to abide by French law. The government plans to increase the number of deportations to 25,000 this year, up from 15,000 in 2004. AFP has more. France 2 television has local coverage, in French. Le Monde has additional local coverage, also in French.

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