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The proposals of certain right-wing primary candidates, and those of the far-right candidates, on immigration are increasingly dangerous for democracy. By proposing, in a mad bidding war, to withdraw from certain foreigners, if not all, some of their current rights, if not all their rights, in terms of RSA, grants, family or housing allowances, access to medicine and education, or even any social benefits, before a presence of five or six years in France, and even to suspend access to Emergency Medical Assistance to foreigners in an irregular situation “except in a vital emergency”, one wonders if these candidates have the most elementary bases of a historical education.  And when we see the worst of them talking about withdrawing residence permits from legal foreigners, or even withdrawing French nationality from some of them (a shameful proposal that some on the left have not hesitated to take up in the recent past), we can only call them arsonists, or even potential criminals.

Because there is a country in Europe that did this a few decades ago. A country that decided to take away all the rights of a certain part of its inhabitants, who were foreigners, or made foreigners by taking away their nationality. A country which, finding no country willing to welcome these people, afraid to expel them for fear that they would lead their new host countries into a bellicose attitude, refusing to let these people, who had become desperate beggars, roam the streets, thought of locking them up in cities reserved for them. A country which, realising the impossibility of making them live in a closed circuit without contact with the rest of the country’s population, explicitly refusing, for example, that a ‘healthy’ citizen should go to a hairdresser’s in one of these closed cities, found no other solution than to put an end to this ‘unhealthy’ part of the population by massacring it.

This country is obviously Germany. More precisely, it is the result of a council of ministers (which met on 9th November 1938, the day after Kristallnacht, under the presidency of Goering in a building that is still today the Ministry of Finance of reunified Germany):  After having discussed and rejected all the hypotheses mentioned above, these ministers and senior officials, many of whom came from the administration prior to the Nazi regime, found no other solution than to slide towards the systematic murder of all Jews, since it was they who were at stake. This is how the principle of the extermination of millions of people was decided. This decision, as we know, was first implemented by mass individual executions, which killed one by one 1.5 million people; before, three years later, on 20 January 1942, another meeting, in a charming villa on the shores of Lake Wannsee near Berlin, decided to accelerate this annihilation, by building gas chambers, to end up executing three times as many of these unfortunate people.

Naturally, in today’s France, none of the supporters of these radical measures in the Republican party imagined or wished to come to this extreme; nor did certain ministers and high officials gathered in Berlin on that fateful day, but that is what was decided. This is, incidentally, what was beginning to be put in place, from 1940 onwards, in French Algeria, by order of the Vichy government alone, without any German presence, and which was only interrupted by the American landing of 8th November 1942 (four years to the day after the Berlin meeting).

It is very urgent to put some reason back into all this. It is very urgent to call on the Republican right to understand that it would be morally, politically, socially, internationally and economically disastrous to deprive foreigners of their current rights. In fact, it is exactly the opposite that should be done: they should be integrated as quickly as possible, they should be taught French as quickly as possible, they should be attracted as quickly as possible to a maximum of new foreign talent, as so many other countries are doing; and even to let all foreigners who are not yet regularised work legally, while waiting for them to be regularised, or for them to be deported with dignity to their country, so that they are not obliged to turn to delinquency, for lack of other means of survival. France has everything to gain from this.

In politics, as in private life, a little culture, ethics, memory and common sense can save us from many misfortunes.