The fate that we reserve for young foreigners at the age of 18 is an absurd hypocrisy. They arrive in France according to questionable methods. But we welcome them because they declare themselves minors. They are hosted, educated, they receive professional training, they become apprentices.
Upon reaching the age of majority, the prefect of the department in which they reside informs them of the obligation to leave our country. A symbolic act, presumed politically correct, because the expulsion procedure, even if actually practicable, has never been implemented. Faced with the scarcity of human resources, the hiring of these young foreigners is prohibited. And having neither the means nor the intention to go home, they declare themselves without illusions as asylum seekers, condemned to the parallel economy, to sordid trafficking, even to delinquency.
The official reason given is to avoid the draft. But the call up has already happened due to our social legislation, it is called childcare (ASE). Paradoxical administrative response, prejudicial in all respects.
These young people are for the most part of African descent, who arrived clandestinely in France, in search of a more enviable destiny than that for which their native country destined them. Very often encouraged by their relatives who agree to pay large sums to networks of unscrupulous smugglers. A sort of investment aimed at establishing a source of income in return.
After the massive migrations triggered by the Arab Spring and climate change, their numbers have continued to grow, despite controls at Europe’s external borders. Their journey ends in the office of an asylum association or a police station that kidnaps the prosecutor for the purpose of automatic placement at the ESA.
Without certificates of marital status, or with false certificates, they still declare themselves far from their 18 years, they explain the reasons for their exile, they describe in the agreed terms the paths they have taken, the trials they have experienced. In the absence of irrefutable evidence, the judicial authority, respectful of the presumption of minority, recognizes them as unaccompanied foreign minors.
What are the respective roles for the state and departments?
Consequently, it places them under the responsibility of the ESA according to the departmental council. This service accompanies families in difficulty to ensure the protection and education of their children and supports young people deprived of their parents or victims of abuse. Originally a state service, the ESA was decentralized in 1983, well before the migration explosion.
Our humanist values and international conventions dictate the principles of our asylum and immigration policy. Particular attention deserves the fate of unaccompanied foreign minors. It is not a question here of questioning the ESA.
On the other hand, it is legitimate to question the respective roles of the departments and the State in the field of reception and care of foreign minors. If border control can be improved, let’s be realistic. Once these young people have reached the age of majority, they have no intention of returning home and we have neither the will nor the means to expel them, our duty is to issue them with a residence permit. .
Jobs everywhere in France
We do not wait for the bosses to go on hunger strike, like this baker from Besançon, who in January 2021 obtained the residence permit for his Guinean apprentice that had just been refused by the prefecture of Doubs. Everywhere in France, positions must be filled. To authorize with discernment young foreigners whose integration paths are exemplary and whose prospects for integration are real is a duty.
Realism, a sense of responsibility, pragmatism invite us to do justice to our taboos. The transformation of public governance and the necessary decentralization must allow the representative of the state, in each department, to decide in conscience and with confidence. A government signal in this direction would be welcome.