Thursday, March 8, 2012

"trop d'étrangers sur notre territoire" ?

Pour tous les pays industrialisés, un des facteurs démographiques qui caractérise une société et une culture robustes est le pluralisme. Mais existe-t-il un point au delà duquel il y a "trop d'étrangers"? Et qu'est-ce qu'on entend par ce terme, étranger? Président Nicolas Sarkozy a récemment déclaré qu'il y a "trop d'étrangers sur notre territoire"-- un propos qui divise la France en deux catégories: le "nous/notre" ("notre territoire") et le "eux/étrangers," c'est-à-dire l'Autre. Voir cet extrait:

Le président français Nicolas Sarkozy, candidat à sa succession à la présidentielle, a estimé qu'il y avait "trop d'étrangers" en France pour que le système d'intégration fonctionne bien et promis de diviser par deux le nombre d'immigrés accueillis chaque année s'il était élu.

"Notre système d'intégration fonctionne de plus en plus mal car nous avons trop d'étrangers sur notre territoire et que nous n'arrivons plus à leur trouver un logement, un emploi, une école", a déclaré M. Sarkozy dans une émission télévisée sur la chaîne de télévision France 2.

"Sur le quinquennat, je considère que pour relancer dans de bonnes conditions l'intégration, il faut diviser par deux le nombre de gens que nous accueillons, c'est-à-dire passer de 180.000 (à) autour de 100.000", a-t-il proposé.

Il est vrai que l'influx des étrangers peut créer des problèmes pour les systèmes d'accueil et d'intégration qui sont en place en France, aux Etats-Unis, etc. Alors que faut-il faire pour amortir l'impact (social, économique) de cet influx?



KJ said...

Don't forget that immigrants in France could very well be highly educated Americans. I was one for 9 years. And it is really quite scary, frankly, to live in a country where there is so much "anti-immigrant" talk. People would say (in the Mayor's office included) that "it doesn't concern YOU, American person" but it most certainly does include ALL non-French, non-European citizens. It has to or else this is purely racism. I had a Jewish-American friend married to a Frenchman who was ready to leave France as soon as she had kids and take her entrepreneurial, job creating company to any other country. They are in Mexico now. I think all countries, France included, can benefit from "etrangers" of all backgrounds.

Kevin Kim said...

Good points, all.

I think, unfortunately, that a lot of the focus in France is indeed on racial and cultural issues-- not that the state of affairs is so different in the US, of course, but France has been wrestling with the realities of modernity and its own sense of cultural purity. While not as bad as Switzerland, France does seem to have trouble assimilating foreigners. (How many Arab jokes have I heard from non-Arab French folks since the 1980s?)

Part of the problem, globally speaking, may be the complexity of the international and intercultural situation. It should be obvious that simply abandoning the notion of borders is a non-starter; people who believe in a borderless future are living in a fantasy realm. At the other extreme we've got the "borderistas" who think, scarily, in terms of a mythical "cultural purity/integrity" that has never existed and will never exist.

Somewhere in the middle of the above spectrum, there is is plenty of room for rational discussion and debate. Every country wants immigrants who are hard-working, smart, and willing to integrate with the larger culture to a significant degree. No country really wants the lazy, the shiftless, the stupid, etc.

But to frame the situation in those terms is to miss the fact that many immigrants will straddle categories. For example: those who might not be the brightest bulbs, intellectually speaking, might be honest, hard-working folk who are only looking for a break, and for a better future for their children. I'd want such an immigrant here in America. Other immigrants, by contrast, might be intellectual powerhouses with destructive personalities. I'd want them nowhere near my country.

How, then, to determine criteria for legal immigration? Can there even be a single filter to screen out the immigrants who won't contribute something constructive to the country?

Sarkozy may be literally correct to think that France's current system for handling immigrants is under strain. But why is he making this observation now? C'est sûrement une question de timing. Is he trying to steal voters from the Le Pen crowd? I wonder.

Complicated stuff.