New York Times’ journalist Adam Nossiter let some righteous pro-refugee anger seep into his Wednesday report from Paris, “France Ordered to Provide Bare Essentials for Migrants -- Policies Assailed As ‘Degrading.’”
After banking on neglect, hostility and mistreatment to discourage a steady trickle of migrants, the new French government was ordered by France’s highest administrative body to do better this week and at least provide water and toilets to the people.
That order has defused, for now, a new migrant crisis brewing at the northern port of Calais, the favored would-be jumping off point for Britain. Yet a permanent solution to France’s slow-boiling migrant problem still appears to be distant.
The photo caption wasn’t any less partial: “Volunteers distributed meals to migrants in Calais, France. The French government has treated NGOs helping the migrants harshly.”
Nossiter’s characterization of France perfidy is remindful of how supposedly objective Times reporters characterize immigration enforcement efforts against Mexican illegals as ways to make their lives miserable -- as if Mexico hadn’t done that already.
That has not stopped the French authorities from trying. In recent days, President Emmanuel Macron proposed opening European-run reception centers in Africa -- perhaps in Niger, Chad or even Libya -- to discourage migrants from risking the journey across the Mediterranean Sea.
Critics quickly pointed out the fierce determination of Africans to make the journey, regardless of counsel to the contrary, and the huge numbers intent on doing so.
Eight months after the government destroyed a sprawling migrant encampment of about 9,000 migrants at Calais, up to 700 migrants -- Eritreans, Ethiopians, Afghans and Pakistanis mostly -- are still wandering the area around the Channel Tunnel, sleeping outdoors with no toilets or other facilities.
Active mistreatment has not discouraged the migrants reaching France -- for example, Human Rights Watch said last week that the police routinely used pepper spray on the migrants. Neither does passive neglect, since the government refused to heed a local court’s order to provide water to the migrants.
But that lower court order was upheld Monday by the Council of State, which criticized Mr. Macron’s government for “inhuman and degrading” treatment of the newest migrants at Calais, in northern France.
On Monday, the council blasted the government’s “manifestly insufficient” accounting for “the elementary hygiene and water needs” of the migrants at Calais by compromising “in a serious and obviously illegal way, a fundamental right.”
The majority of residents of Calais might agree. The leader of the far-right National Front, Marine Le Pen, won a majority of the vote against Mr. Macron in the second round of the presidential election in May.
Mr. Macron wants a fresh start on policy regarding migrants, but until last week he had mainly allowed his tough-talking interior minister to set the tone: no coddling of migrants at Calais and harsh words for the humanitarian organizations working there.
Nossiter eventually let French President Emmanuel Macron speak:
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“Most of those who are, dreadfully, called migrants today, are not all men and women demanding asylum, coming from countries where their lives are in danger,” Mr. Macron said. “There are many, more and more, who come from peaceful countries, and are following the economic migration routes, who are financing the smugglers, the bandits, even terrorists, and in those cases we need to be strict, tough even, rigorous, with those coming by those routes. We can’t welcome everybody.”
Nossiter is hypersensitive to prejudice -- among Republicans, anyway. He was quick to suggest Alabamians voted for John McCain in 2008 because of racist prejudice against Barack Obama. Yet when the shoe was on the other foot, and two, Nossiter managed the amazing feat of writing a story about anti-Semitism in a Democratic congressional primary race without mentioning the name of the party.