EU immigration law: the statute of the Roma people in France
Deportation vs. legal right of movement
Academic Research Paper
Dr. Tamir Bar-On
International Relations Theories II
November 18, 2010
In the small town of Loire Valley in Saint Aignan, France, dozens of primitively armed Roma attacked a police station, engaging in riotsacross near streets. This was the consequence of the killing of a Luigi Duquenet; a 22 years old French Roma who supposedly was involved in a burglary and the assault of a police officer. He was shot by the town’s gendarme. This event summed up to the previous shooting of an alleged armed robber in Grenoble. Feeling that the situation was getting out of control, President Nicolas Sarkozy called anemergency ministerial meeting who resolute that, in a period no longer than 3 months, 300 illegal camps would be dismantled. The president’s office declared that camps where "sources of illegal trafficking, of profoundly shocking living standards, of exploitation of children for begging, of prostitution and crime". (BBC, 2010) Since then dozens of camps are being closed and illegal immigrantsdeported to their respective countries. But who are the Roma people?
Linguistically and genetically it is believed that the Roma people originated in central India around the 11th century. According to the Oxford’s Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics, Romani is the only Indo-Aryan language spoken exclusively in Europe, as well as by emigrant populations in the Americas and Australia. (Matras,2006) Waves of migration shaped the current Romani identity and gave them a place in Europe:
“The Roma (Gypsies) became one of the peoples of Europe when they arrived in the Byzantine Empire 900–1,100 years ago. The formation of the present-day Romani populations of European countries is the compound product of the early migrations from the Balkans into western Europe, completed by the 15thcentury, and three superimposed migration waves: the first during the end of the 19th century, after the abolition of Gypsy slavery in Romania; the second out of Yugoslavia, during the 1960s and 1970s; and the third during the last decade, following the political and economic changes in eastern Europe” (Origins and Divergence of the Roma (Gypsies), 2001)
Since ever, the Roma people have being eitherpersecuted, assimilated or even killed, as the Holocaust has proved. Society has generally isolated them into the poorest corners of a country and therefore, as a means of survival, Roma people tend to migrate.
According to David Mark from the Civic Alliance of Roma in Bucharest and Letitia Mark, who runs a non-governmental organization for Roma women in the western city of Timisoara, the problemof the Roma people is in great deal a consequence of the discrimination suffered by them in Bulgaria and Romania. Specifically in Romania unemployment rates are close to 100% in some Roma camps, they face low rates of literacy are a result of failing to finish school and life expectancy is far below the national average. Letitia Mark explains: "The economic crisis is turning the poorest Romaniansinto Roma as well. Some of those being expelled from France now are not actually Roma. They are victims of the 'gypsification' of the Romanian countryside." (Thorpe, 2010)
In her book ‘Nationalism and Political Identity’, Sandra F. Joireman explains that a critical factor in identity the choice has to do with economic and/or political oppression:
“Nationalism is intensified by the politics ofexclusion. Any time a group of people feels particularly targeted for ill-treatment or oppression, there is a likelihood that their identification will turn from ethnic to national identity: in other words, their identity will become politicized. If one group in the society is set apart for unequal treatment, either economically or politically, then the boundaries of that group become clearly...