Testimonials: Why Are We Here?

Saint-Hippolite (Paris 13), May 3, 2006

Wednesday 3 May 2006.

Testimony of undocumented migrants collected on May 3, 2006 in the Saint-Hippolite church in Paris

Ahmed Djahl, 9 and a half years old

The groups come to the church to ask for the papers. I never came to church, I was scared because for me I thought Christians didn’t like Muslims.

Now I’m not afraid anymore because they said we were going to sleep here, and if we sleep here the police are not going to come. I am reassured.

The church is kind to undocumented migrants. Maybe the head of the church will help us give us papers. Compared to Auguste Perret [ex-local of the Social Service for Emigrant Assistance (SSAE) which had very recently been occupied by undocumented migrants], I didn’t like it because the police pushed us when we had nothing done. There have been accidents. I was very scared, my mother lost her shoes. The others got caught by the cops. Others have fled. Ali saved my life. He picked me up and took me outside, my mother was next to me. Now at church I am at ease. Even before the expulsion to Auguste Perret, I was very, very scared, because I knew that the police could come at any time.

When I got to church, I asked my mother to come home, because I was very scared, but my mother insisted that we stay. When Jean-Claude said there was no risk of the police coming, then I told my mother if we could stay.

I am afraid of the police because of the gas but also of the baton. Nicolas Sarkozy wants to send the police to send us back to our country of origin.

Diallo Aboubakar

I’ve been living in this beautiful country for 6 years. I found the French to be very nice, but they have a clumsy government. I did not come to tourism in France, I am here to work. For this to happen, we must all be regularized. It’s very hard for me, I live in poverty. When I came here, I thought our galley was going to end. I realize it’s harder than before.

Camara Dianko

Guinean nationality.

I have been in France since 1988. I don’t know if you understand my suffering. I waited until I was 10 years old (in France) to apply for my regularization. I was given a refusal. I lost everything, I can’t go home after all this time. I ended up exhausting all my strength here. We need to regularize all undocumented migrants. Without exception.

Cissoko Mamadou

Senegalese nationality.

It makes me 5 years of presence in France. In fact the word “chosen immigration” annoys me. Our ancestors who were taken to Africa were not chosen. I think immigrants bring a lot to France. At the same time, I think that France must regularize all the undocumented migrants who are there instead of talking to us about chosen immigration. Finally, Sarko must remember that he is the son of an immigrant.


France’s brand image is being tarnished by a foreigner. It can be seen that he does not know what it is like yesterday’s France, France Terre d’Accueil, France as a colonizing mother, France as a land of asylum. It is they who have established colonization, democratization, devaluation, and now they are establishing precariousness after having stripped Africa of all its wealth.

My father fought to free France from the hands of the Nazis, he has all the honorary distinctions of the French army, and his offspring are refused sick leave.

France is no longer France. Down with slavery, the exploitation of man by man.

These racist laws, I compare them to the laws under Vichy and under Pétain. What happens to France is not the fault of foreigners, it is globalization which equals profit and this profit tends to make the rich richer and the poor poorer and poorer. So let’s make this globalization better to live with and long live the Resistance.

Dia Ndiath Tierno Gounass

We are here to emphasize our objective to have the papers.

All this is to defend our dignity. Refuse to do stupid things, refuse violence.

It’s just to work and have dignity.

We are in a moment of danger. What is the danger? We meet the police and we risk being fired without having done anything.

In France, we know that if you don’t have papers, you are a danger! Lots of police.

We hope things are going well.

We want to live like everyone else. And you cannot live in France without papers.

Aliou and Amadou

We are here because we are undocumented. When we live there normally, we must have papers. Currently, we cannot live “A Human Life” like everyone else.

It is good for us that it is a church that welcomes us. The people of the church are human. I hope that, thanks to them, we will obtain more things.

We came to France not to work for anything else. If we came to do bad things, we would stay in Africa.

France is a colonizer of Senegal. For us, it was normal to come to France because we have lived since childhood with the French.

Sarko says that the foreigner has to learn French. However, as a Senegalese, I have spoken and understood French since I was little.

But nothing is done for me, to integrate me here.

We have no other countries to go to since we only speak French.

Sarko discriminates by choosing foreigners from Eastern Europe and refuses Africans when we have been colonized for a very long time.

What we want is the Regularization of ALL undocumented migrants. We fight for that !!


It’s the same word there all the time. We are tired.

We’ve been here, it’s been a long time. All these problems are because of the papers. We don’t kill people, we don’t rape, we don’t take drugs, we are workers and we come to work, that’s all.

So now it’s the French who colonized us. We’re here to work, we’re not bandits. The Americans did not colonize us and they give visas for 3, 4 years.

The French, if they don’t like us, all they have to do is give 3-year or 4-year visas and we go back. But not 3 months!

If you have seen Malians, they are there for 3 years and they have nothing because we have no means.

We only have to give papers and that way, we can work. That’s all.

Moussa Traore

We are undocumented workers, workers. We have done 10 years, 15 years of work and we contribute and, when we are sick, we do not benefit from the health benefits.

Now it is modern slavery.

Why we are not regularized, it’s been 15 years that we are there. Return to the country is impossible.

They say immigration chooses those who have studied.

If they take all the intellectuals from our home, what do we have left? In Mali, the doctors will leave here. What are the people going to do? If we don’t stay between ourselves, what strength do we have left?

I have things to say, we are fed up.

Karima Aberkane


As the daughter of an immigrant and a veteran for France (grandfather), since my childhood, I love France and I have always dreamed of coming to France. Today, I found myself in France with my husband and my 2 children born and educated in France. I find myself without papers after 5 years of presence on French territory. I had a refusal for each request made to the prefecture. I have no individual solution. I joined the collective after hearing this bill where we have no chance of being regularized. And compared to my children who go to school, they will be expelled at the end of June, the end of the school year.

If I am here today, I thank the priest who received us very much. With this collective, I hope that we will have a better life, that our children can have a normal life.

Free of her brain tumors, is Wida a “useful” migrant or a “sustained” migrant?

This is the story of a young Afghan girl whom the philosophy-politics of the French government would condemn to death.

Her name is Wida. She is 17 years old. She is Afghan. She lives in the suburbs of Kabul with her large family: seven brothers and sisters, her mother, her sister-in-law, two little nephews.

In 2003, she had a series of syncope at home. She complains a lot about the head, moans at night, cries during the day. It becomes a burden. At the nth syncope, one fine day in July 2004, her relatives tie her up because she struggles and throw her into a dark recess. On landing, she broke her front teeth. We will see, they say to themselves, whether God will heal her or condemn her. Would they thus have turned over to providence if it had been a question of a boy?

Innocent parents innocently tell the story over the phone to one of their sons who lives in France. Like an unimportant anecdote: “By the way, you know, your sister …”. He, who has been here for two years, rebels against such barbarism and threatens to cut off all contact if Wida is not treated. Contributions, sending 200 or 300 euros. The family drives Wida to Peshawar in Pakistan as there is no point in hoping for any effective care in Afghanistan. A surgeon examines her and decides to operate. Through imprecise telephone accounts, we understand that there was blood in the young girl’s skull. After a few days, she leaves the clinic and returns to Kabul.

Wida is doing better. But not very good. She applies for a visa for France, which refuses it three times. By what miracle does Austria grant him one? We’ll never know. As she is better, she does not worry about her health until one day, in Vienna, she faints in the street. Emergency relief, hospitalization in the first hospital to come, which decides to transfer to the neurology department of the university hospital center in the Austrian capital. There, she undergoes many examinations. Neurologists and surgeons hesitate to intervene because the risk of death or significant sequelae seems very high to them. They end up deciding the surgery. They remove two tumors – which will turn out not to be malignant – in the brain, one of which is the biggest they’ve ever seen in all of their multiple careers. They will also publish articles in the scientific press.

Today, Wida is doing well. She is even amazed by his well-being. She will have to remain in Vienna under outpatient medical supervision for three years. A teacher comes to make her work every day at home. She lives in a small apartment near the hospital where she goes for exams every now and then for two or three days.

Is Wida a “useful” migrant or a “suffered” migrant?

Wida is alive and happy. When his brother, who lives in France and who feels more than pride in having forced his family to have his sister treated, spoke to him about the ideas of MM. de Villepin and Sarkozy, she said: “So they would have wanted me to die?”

Jean-Pierre Alaux (Gisti)

Tomorrow, if the Law Passes ...

You meet Mamadou, your neighbor in the 6th arrondissement, a little more worried and sad than usual, then you ask him if he’s okay. Three years that he has not seen his wife and children and that he is talking to you about bringing them to France one day. 6 months ago, he invited you to his party because he had finally been regularized. It also pleased him to have landed this 30m² after so much hassle, it was essential to submit a request for family reunification. However, he is not even sure that his accommodation will be acceptable for the case to be successful. However, he still has to wait a year before making a request for reunification, and it can be refused. Worse, it is really not sure that his country will send the necessary civil status documents. His Malian friends told him it could take years. So obviously

Thomas, a friend of yours, fell madly in love with Elena during a trip to Ukraine. After several round trips, Elena came to France on a tourist visa and they got married. He thought it was easy for her to obtain a residence permit following their marriage. Fault !! His wife went to the prefecture to obtain a residence permit, her tourist visa having expired a few days earlier. But with the law of 2006 this is no longer possible. Now, to live in France legally, Elena had no other solution than to go back to Ukraine and apply for a long-stay visa. Except that Thomas announces to you this evening that it is on his third unanswered request. And, if she ends up obtaining it, three years of marriage (instead of two before) and proof of her integration will be necessary for them to obtain a resident card.

Tonight you stayed later than usual at work, You meet Oury who comes to clean every evening in your company. You know him well, you often discuss together: whenever you have some files left to finish. Tonight, he seems upset to you. You question him. Feeling confident, he tells you that he is undocumented. He has not seen his family since 1997, when he arrived in France. He thought he would be regularized next year by proving his ten years of presence and finally bring his wife and children to him. However, the law is passed today, the right to regularization after 10 years of presence no longer exists. From now on, his papers depend on the arbitrariness of an administration pushed every day to increase the number of refusals and expulsions. Oury may well stay 30 years in France, it will always be the same.

Like every day, you have lunch with your colleague Paola. She was hired for a non-renewable period of one year, according to a procedure provided for by the new law. For 2 months, you have been the only person she dares to talk to about the daily nightmare she is living, due to the sexual harassment of which she is the victim by her manager. You told her that there are laws to protect her. As she warned that she was going to file a complaint if he did not stop, her manager announced to her, suddenly, that she would be fired. In fact, Paola could sue him for harassment but the dismissal puts an end to her right to a residence permit since the law of 2006 … She will be far before seeing the outcome of the trial, and her employer knows it. . You did not realize that Paola was so much on an ejection seat, and that her life in France depended only on the goodwill of her employers …