The New York Times published this article France is Sending North African Graduates Home earlier this month. Apparently other articles were also published in major newspapers all around the world and the news is out. Le Monde is reporting that French government officials and recruitment teams for foreign talent are being "harassed" with questions about the "May 31 Circular" wherever they go.
Damage control is finally underway. The Prime Minister, François Fillon, sent this letter clarifying the intent of the measure. He says:
La France est extrêmement attaché a sa tradition d'acceuil des étudiants étrangers, qui constitue un élément important de l'attractivité internationale de ses écoles et de ces universités. Notre objectif est d'attirer les meilleurs étudiants du monde, en particulier en master et doctorat, au bénéfice du rayonnement de notre ensignement supérieur et de notre pays.And he goes on to say that he agrees that some students who really should have received work permits were indeed denied them and he has asked for their cases to be re-examined. That is a good response and very well done on his part.
France is very attached to her tradition of welcoming foreign students who are an important element in the attractiveness of her schools and universities. Our objective is to attract the best students in the world, in particular graduate students, to the benefit of our system of higher education and of our country.
On the other hand, the very same day Fillon's letter came out Claude Guéant was once again in the news with a new attack on legal immigration saying, yet again, that there are simply too many immigrants coming to France. In his article he repeats his resolve to reduce the numbers, vows to fight against abuses by immigrants of French social services and adding, for good measure, an assault on bi-national marriage: "Beaucoup de mariages sont frauduleux. Il faut, qu'avec le ministre de la Justice, nous veillons à ce que les mariages soient des vrais mariages." (Many of these marriages are fraudulent. We must ensure, by working with the Minister of Justice, that these are real marriages.)
Talked about a mixed message on the part of the government and one that goes so far as to personally offend me. If Mr. Guéant would like to examine whether or not my husband and I have a "true" marriage and that the products of our 23-year marriage, our Frenchlings, are really our children, I suppose he has that right. I doubt however that such action would convince any member of our family (French citizens and non-citizens alike) of the "attractiveness" of France.
Le Monde ended their article by quoting Jean-Pierre Raffarin on the options open to international students: "Entre une administration canadienne accueillante et une administration française un peu fermée, ils font vite le choix." (Between a welcoming Canadian administration and a French one that is closed, they quickly make their choice.) I said it before and I think it's worth repeating: migrants have options. I sincerely hope that the French government realizes that it's not just international students they risk losing, it's all migrants who just might decide that a work or residency permit is no compensation for having to breathe poisoned air.