2007 May 27 Sunday
France Pays Immigrants To Leave

The conservative government of newly elected French President Nicolas Sarkozy seeks to fulfill campaign promises to cut back on immigrants in France by paying them to leave. The new French government has created a new department to enforce immigration laws more aggressively. Also, the French government promises to initiate a vigorous program to pay legal immigrants to leave.

France is home to over 5 million immigrants -- and the new conservative-led government doesn't plan on making things any more comfortable for them. While the new regime in Paris is determined to curb illegal immigration, it is also looking to encourage legal migrants to reconsider their decision to stay in France -- by paying them to go back home.

New immigration minister, Brice Hortefeux, confirmed on Wednesday that the government is planning to offer incentives to more immigrants to return home voluntarily. "We must increase this measure to help voluntary return. I am very clearly committed to doing that," Hortefeux said in an interview with RFI radio.

Under the scheme, Paris will provide each family with a nest egg of 6,000 ($8,000) for when they go back to their country of origin. A similar scheme, which was introduced in 2005 and 2006, was taken up by around 3,000 families.

The French should levy big fines on the employers of illegals and use the money to fund the bribing of legals to leave. Also, they should follow the British approach (see further below) of increasing fees on applications for legal residency and use that money to deal with illegals. Why force the citizens to pay for the foreigners?

Hortefeux wants to increase the number of immigrants who take up the French government's offer to get paid to leave.

"We must increase this measure to help voluntary return. I am very clearly committed to doing that," said Hortefeux, who last week was named in the rightwing government of President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Hortefeux heads a newly-created ministry of immigration, integration, national identity and co-development that is expected toughen up immigration policy and tailor it to France's employment needs.

Hortefeux estimates that France has between 200,000 and 400,000 illegal immigrants. The United States should be so lucky.

Thanks to Dragon Horse for the tip.

Britain is taking a different approach: The cost of staying in Britain is going up.

The price tag for naturalization more than doubled in early April to 575, or $1,135, from 200, part of a wave of steep increases in fees to immigrants. The biggest rise was in the cost of the long-term residency permit, known here as indefinite leave to remain, which rose to 750 from 335. Same-day service for the permit costs 950, compared to 500 before the change.

Officials say the proceeds will help pay for a big new push to enforce immigration laws and crack down on illegal arrivals. The Home Office, the government department in charge of domestic security, said it wanted to hire more enforcement agents, build detention centers and increase its ability to process migrants efficiently without spending tax money.

Immigration Minister Liam Byrne said it was fair to require those who benefit economically from living in Britain to pay for the changes.

Note how some of the money will be spent on enforcement activities against illegal immigrants. We start fining employers of illegals and use the money to fund the capture and deportation of illegals.

Update: In 2005 Steve Sailer proposed buying out Muslim immigrants (who are France's biggest concern) in two articles here and here. One interesting thing to note about a buy-out: The more economically successful the immigrant the less enticing the buy-out. So we would tend to get rid of the poorest immigrants (those who pay the least in taxes and cost the most for medical and other welfare state services) if we paid legal immigrants a fixed amount to leave.

Contra the open borders libertarians I do not see the ability to immigrate as a basic right. Any supposed right which, if put into full practice, would destroy many other rights (e.g. by raising crime and taxes) does not strike me as a right. Also, I do not buy the argument that all people should get all the same rights. Rights have to flow from other attributes that people possess. We do not all equally possess the attributes needed to make a free society work. Therefore we should not all possess equal rights. The law already recognizes this, for example, vis a vis children. They are not considered to have the capacity for the exercise of full rights. Neither are retarded people. Similarly, we also shouldn't grant full rights to psychopaths since they lack sufficient motive to respect the rights of others.

Audacious Epigone points out that the welfare state benefits in France serve as a disincentive for legal immigrants in France to leave.

Critics will argue that $8,000 comes nowhere near making up for the entitlements to be accrued by a migrant who elects to remain in France. Stateside, low-skilled workers create an annual net taxpayer liability of over $22,000 per capita. While ascertaining demographic attributes in France is even more difficult than in the US, since the French government doesn't inquire about the race or ethnicity of its residents, in 2002 a private thinktank found that half of the foreign-born in France do menial jobs compared to the one-quarter of natives who do, are twice as likely to be unemployed as their native cohorts, and are three times as likely as natives to make only the minimum wage. The French entitlement structure is even more generous to the impoverished than the one in the US is. So it's safe to assume that for most of the migrants the new initiative will apply to, recouping the $8,000 given up will only take a matter of months.

The French government needs to start restricting welfare state benefits eligibility for legal immigrants and to stop letting in legal immigrants who can't earn more than the average French wage.

Update II: The French approach to immigration is especially heartening because they do not seek just to slow the growth of the problem or to stop its growth. The French approach potentially could reverse the growth of the problem. Since so many of the illegal immigrants to France are Muslims they have a special need to turn back the clock and undo some of the damage. But we too could benefit from this approach.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2007 May 27 11:47 AM  Immigration Law Enforcement

purenoiz said at May 27, 2007 1:06 PM:

Your update has some sound logic to it. I personally believe all people are born inherently equal, it's the choices and behaviors that separate people, and the 3 qualifications you listed. I personally don't agree with the notion that IQ plays a pivotal role. Since IQ tests can be skewed to favor those already familiar with a culture and not those willing to adapt to prosper. Then again if somebosy refuses to adapt to their surrounding why should we who are already here be required to co-exist with people who want to live here, but not integrate into our society? Complex issue, no "nice touchy fealy solution" some people will get hurt in the process, I hope we can prosper here, and in the surrounding areas (north and central america) without losing our humanity in the process. I don't trust DC to be able to craft a real solution to our nations problems, it's gonna have to be local.

Would the poorest ereally want to leave/ If the country they left is a nightmare by any rational standards, would they return to a dictatorship that would likely incarcerate torture or kill them upon arrival. A lot of people say this is not our problem, but try to entice people who are afraid of reprisal to "go home". Sounds like the prelude to the movie "children of men". I

Mensarefugee said at May 27, 2007 2:06 PM:

Too ....much...rationality.......must....stop..reading.

*Head explodes*

purenoiz said at May 27, 2007 4:40 PM:

Some will fight to stay, others will gladly leave, what do you think they are gonna do with the prior?

Kenelm Digby said at May 28, 2007 5:30 AM:

As I've said before the plan will not work because it financially disadvantagous to th immigrants (who by the way are *not* stupid, despite the oft-quoted 'low IQ' claims I read, in fact if individuals can be judged by rational actions they are of far, far higher intelligence than the supposedly high IQ political class of the western nations).
Simply put the women folk of the immigrants who have a more mature, intuitive, instinctive attitude will not permit their children to be put in the jeopardy, poverty and discomfort that a return to the third-world will bring - here is a good case of the 'mother-child' bond being strongerhan anything any so-called rationalist economic hard-man politicians can ever dream up.

Randall Parker said at May 28, 2007 7:08 AM:


It depends on your definition of stupid. I think of it in terms of cognitive capacity to learn to master complex abstract subject matter and to carry out tasks correctly using that subject matter as a guide. For that their IQ scores predict group average performance.

As for whether they'll respond to the incentives: Take away their welfare and at the same time offer them money and my guess is some will leave. Just how many will leave will depend on the size of the incentives.

Lots of people spend to buy a new car or lots of fancy clothes in the short term rather than save for a house or invest in stocks. They take short term approaches. Some of the Arabs and sub-Saharan Africans in France will react to the financial incentive in a similar fashion.

Audacious Epigone said at May 28, 2007 6:28 PM:


Undoubtedly, $8,000 is a bargain from a French economic perspective. But that's exactly why Sarkozy is right to give it a shot. And a couple of factors are working in his favor.

The difference between real purchasing power and the official exchange rate for money moving from a developed nation like France to virtually anywhere in northern Africa or the Near East is going to differ substantially, to the benefit of those returning home to enjoy their deposit. In Azerbaijan, for example, that $8,000 will buy about as much stuff as $35,000 will buy in France. And with a per capita income of $7,300, the stipend will be akin to a 13-month severance pay back home.

Also, those most likely to take the offer will also be the migrants France wants most to be rid of. Whether it be because the migrant is desperately in need of money, isn't intelligent enough to realize that getting couple marshmallows down the road is better than snatching a single marshmallow now, or is so alienated by French cultural values that he can't bear to stay, his departure is especially propitious for France.

Not all underclass Muslim immigrants will take the bait. But some will. The perfect shouldn't be the enemy of the good.

Parenthetically, can anyone imagine the US government creating a "National Identity" department today?

Kenelm Digby said at May 29, 2007 4:34 AM:

But my point is this:
No mother will voluntarily take her baby son back to the fly-blown, cholera-ridden hell-holes of the third world, where she has to pay for the few years' schooling on offer, pay in kind (they have no cash) for the ministrations of a badly equipped doctor, live in a hut with no running water, defecate in a hole outside, have a few rags for clothing and no shoes and if child survives to manhood he will most likely live in wretched idleness, and have his life threatened by violence.
Compare this to the opulence that is offered to to the denizen of the meanest banlieu even - you don't need to break your back carrying a barrel full of water for miles every morning just to cook, wash and drink - it all comes out of a faucet for you.
Anyone who thinks that such a mother will not literally fight to the death to avoid the 'ultimate punishment' of returning home is sadly deluded over human nature.
To the mindset of these mothers I really doubt if *any* cash reward will entice them home.

Randall Parker said at May 29, 2007 8:07 PM:


France has already managed to entice a few thousand people into leaving. I figure that upping the payment per person while cutting welfare benefits could entice tens or hundreds of thousands to leave.

david said at May 30, 2007 8:46 AM:

Some of your previous comments suggest that the mother of these immigrant families make the descisions in the family.
I suspect they are quite wrong, as many of these families come from a culture where the womenfolk are considered possesions. The problem will come when the leavers take the money and "re-cycle" themselves.

nz conservative said at June 2, 2007 7:43 PM:

Status is also a big factor in people's behaviour.

Although a low IQ immigrant may do well in a wetern country from a welfare perspective, from a social perspective they are looked down upon by both successsful immigrants and the host population, hence psychologically they aren't likely to be very happy.

However, in they return to there country of origin with some money, their relative social status is likely to rise considerably.

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