Thursday, April 24, 2008

Les Mots et les Choses

During the presidential campaign, the Right criticized the Left for its angélisme on the immigration question. Realism was the watchword of the Right. France would select its immigrants on the basis of its needs. The problem was a question of management, not morality.

How fascinating, then, to see a powerful center of opposition to the government's immigration policy developing among employers, particularly small to medium enterprises in the construction, restaurant, and hotel sectors, which employ large numbers of immigrant workers and which have become impatient with the foot-dragging, case-by-case approach to regularization still defended by the minister of immigration and national identity, Brice Hortefeux.

Thus the Right finds itself hoist by its own petard. Management is indeed the crux of the matter, and it's the managers of small businesses that rely on immigrant labor who are forcefully making the point to the government that efficient management cannot tolerate the uncertainty that your policies are causing to hover over our labor force and cannot tolerate the disruptiveness of your police tactics, searches, deportations, etc. The government is thus caught in a bind. It must choose between the rhetoric of management and the winks and nods to the extreme right, whose support at the polls remains an integral part of the equation of power. It was a day of reckoning that had to come. It's interesting that it has come through the combined pressure exerted by employers, unions, and immigrant workers themselves. It's always heartening to see civil society asserting the demands of reality in the face of distortionary state rhetoric.

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