Immigrants Seek Church Help in France

Illegal immigrants who occupied the Vatican’s embassy in Paris have called on the church to support their struggle for better treatment. “We’ve asked moral and spiritual authorities, firstly the Vatican, to call the French government to greater humanity,” said the Collective Sans-Papiers, or “Undocu-mented Collective,” in a statement released on Jan. 2. Between 40 and 70 mostly African undocumented migrants took over the embassy on Dec. 31, unfurling a banner with the slogan “Jesus defended the stranger,” in support of a hunger-strike by other undocumented people outside the Catholic cathedral in Lille. The statement said the nuncio, Archbishop Luigi Ventura, had agreed to pass along the protesters’ demand for a meeting with France’s interior minister, Manuel Valls. On Nov. 28, a new Interior Ministry directive said immigrants must submit pay stubs as a condition for regularizing their status. In its statement, Collective Sans-Papiers said the November directive had imposed an “impossible condition” for most undocumented people and “condemned them to a desperate situation.”

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