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The French are taking a page out of the Biden administration's playbook when it comes to clearing Paris streets of droves of homeless migrants ahead of the upcoming Rugby World Cup and Olympics that France will be hosting. As an incentive to leave Paris, the French government will offer temporary housing to the homeless if they agree to leave Paris and move to rural communities.
In an effort to clear up its appearance, the French government has created a scheme to relocate the homeless masses huddled on Parisian streets to rural provinces where they are guaranteed to receive accommodation and better access to available social services, according to a circular that was recently distributed among government officials.
The circular indicates that 500 places of accommodation will eventually be available across 10 different regions with the first of those locations opening later this month.
The move comes after years of the Parisian government failing to keep up with a flood of international arrivals. Asylum seekers and migrants have been living in squalor on Paris streets, in parking lots, and in metro stations, where they pitch tents in an effort to have some form of shelter.
Despite homeless encampments cropping up across the city, Parisian officials have been hesitant to house the homeless in local hotels as they want to keep those rooms available for visitors arriving for the Rugby World Cup in September and for the Olympics next summer.
The plan to relocate Paris's homeless population isn't just for those struggling financially, but also for those who are asylum seekers or in other abnormal situations. According to the circular, those who face deportation from the country, known as an OQTF, will have their cases re-examined as part of the process. The circular states that "an updated examination of each situation is necessary," to determine if new aspects, such as certain human rights, can be used to justify residency under the new program.
"Many situations are very poorly known, and some people probably already meet the conditions for obtaining a residence permit," the circular adds.
As the Rugby World Cup approaches in a few months, the French government is eager to see if the potential promise of residency for migrants and asylum seekers will be enough to mostly clear the French capital's streets in an effort to present it in a better light to the rest of the world.
"We want the temporary accommodations to allow the entire procedure to be organized," said Sylvain Mathieu, the Interministerial Delegation for Accommodation and Access to Housing (DIHAL), which has concocted the scheme in conjunction with the French Interior Ministry.
"In particular, we are asking the prefectures that host these shelters to provide premises reserved for the evaluation of administrative situations by government services, while respecting the confidentiality of exchanges," added the Director General for Foreign Nationals in France, Eric Jalon.
The question that remains, however, is that given the accommodations in the rural provinces are temporary, where will Paris's homeless population go once the international sporting events are over? A country can only hide part of its population for so long, eventually, it will have to be formally dealt with.
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