French students intensify their protests against deportations

French high school students intensified their protest on Friday over the deportation of undocumented migrant classmates, blocking several schools ahead of a mass rally in Paris.

For a second day running the entrances to several schools in the capital were barricaded by garbage bins and metal barriers.

At Lycee Arago in the Nation district, teachers arriving for class had to run a gauntlet of jeering pupils to gain access to the building through the teacher’s entrance. The students’ entrance had been entirely blocked.

Over 100 students demonstrated in front of the building.

“Arago showing solidarity,” a banner waved by one demonstrator read.

Around 20 high schools were affected by the protests, which were sparked by the arrest and deportation of a 15-year-old Roma during a school tour on October 9.

Leonarda Dibrani, who had been attending school in the eastern Franche-Comte region for the past four years, was deported to Kosovo, along with her mother and five sisters after the family’s asylum request was rejected.

The circumstances of her deportation caused an outcry within the leftist faction of the governing Socialist Party, which has expressed disquiet at Interior Minister Manuel Valls’ tough stance on illegal immigration.

On Thursday, thousands of students calling the “immediate return” of Leonarda and Khatchik Kachatryan, a 19-year-old Armenian who was also deported last week, marched on the interior ministry in Paris.

A second rally was planned Friday afternoon at Bastille Square.

Later Friday, the government is to announce the findings of an administrative investigation into the deportation of the Dibrani family.

Mr Valls has insisted that the removal was carried out according to procedure but the government has hinted it could revoke the deportation order by declaring that the school environment should be a sanctuary for illegals.

The affair has put President Francois Hollande in a tight spot.

Mr Hollande campaigned as the champion of French youth.

Some Socialists have called on him to fire Mr Valls, but so far he has remained mum on the affair.

Mr Valls, the country’s favourite minister, had been seen as one of Mr Hollande’s best assets.

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Printable version | May 23, 2022 8:35:49 am |