A publication by the far-right party Rassemblement National (RN) about the allegedly "high cost" of unaccompanied minors has provoked the ire of a number of French lawyers. They have decried the "unworthy comparisons" and the "inaccurate" and even "delusional" statements made by RN.
On June 4, more than a hundred lawyers made an official report to the courts about a Rassemblement National (RN) leaflet published in the department of Yvelines (Paris region), in connection with upcoming regional elections.
In this leaflet delivered to the homes of residents, the far-right party claims that unaccompanied minors are "responsible for the explosion of insecurity" and cost the state too much money. According to the RN, "an unaccompanied minor costs the department €40,000 each year."
These comments "stigmatize" these vulnerable young people and are completely out of touch with reality, deplores rights lawyer Emmanuel Daoud, who sent his concerns to many public prosecutors' offices in the Ile-de-France region, including those in Créteil, Nanterre and Versailles.
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As the French newspaper Le Monde reports, unaccompanied minors represent less than 10% of children taken into care by the Child Welfare Agency (ASE), at a cost of up to €23 per day, or €8,395 per year. This is a far cry from the €40,000 claimed by the RN and its chairwoman Marine Le Pen.
The RN leaflet constitutes a "provocation to discrimination, to create hatred towards these minors because of their origin," says Daoud. "The prosecutors must act. It is no longer possible for such hate speech to be trivialized in the public space."
The public prosecutor's office can decide whether or not to open an investigation. Contacted by AFP, the Créteil public prosecutor's office said it was currently studying Daoud's report. The Nanterre and Versailles prosecutors were unable to confirm receipt of the report on Friday evening.
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The RN's allegations are reminiscent of those made by Les Républicains (LR) senator Henri Leroy in an interview with Le Figaro in late May. Like the far-right party, he said he was "concerned about insecurity and the costs generated by unaccompanied minors."
Leroy's comments instantly provoked both the anger and the reaction of a number of lawyers. "We can no longer stand the inaccurate, misleading, or even downright delusional statements made by ill-informed or malicious people," wrote 39 lawyers in an article published in Le Monde on June 5.
They condemned the "unworthy comparisons and shameful stigmatization" of unaccompanied minors and say they intend to refute "point by point these exaggerated remarks."
The lawyers, with official statistics to back them up, assure that the senator -- and by implication the RN -- is using "far-fetched data" both on the number of unaccompanied minors taken in charge by the ASE and on their cost for the communities.
They also point out that these young people are not delinquents but are, on the contrary, involved in training courses in areas such as bakery and plumbing. Such is the success of these programs in integrating minors into French society that, in recent months, many employers have mobilized against the OQTF (Obligation de quitter le territoire français or Obligation to Leave French Territory) issued by the prefectures against their apprentices, who have become adults during their apprenticeship.