In a sop to the humanitarian groups that provide daily assistance to the migrants across France that the French state only seems able to demonise and persecute, the French Immigration Minister Eric Besson proposed to look at Article 622-4 of the code of entry and residence of foreigners and asylum (CESEDA) which makes it a crime to provide aid and assistance to 'illegal' immigrants.
Besson said in his meeting with the associations on Friday that he would set up three working groups to examine these proposals, which the associations are invited to participate in and they would make their conclusions "at the end of the year." He also advocated the creation of a "guide of good practices" for members of humanitarian associations so they would not cross the line between 'legal' aid provision and 'illegality' and promised to send a circular to prefects on the intervention of the police "in places where humanitarian aid was being provided".
Some of the associations welcomed this as a first step, though many were seceptical about just what would be achieved. This is because Article 622-4 only prohibits the spouse or partner of an 'illegal' alien being prosecuted for having hosted or assisted them in their daily life and the association will continue to call for the repeal of Article 622-1 which prohibits any assistance to 'illegals'. Besson may declare that there is "no crime of solidarity in France" as much as he wants but no one in the associations will feel safe until CESEDA is history.