Schoolgirl expulsion reignites migration row in France

Government spokeswoman Najat Vallaud-Belkacem defended Valls and rebuffed calls for his resignation.

Written by Reuters | Paris | Published:October 18, 2013 3:18 am

A 15-year-old girl taken off a school bus and deported to Kosovo has become the latest focus of France’s agonised debate over migration,putting Interior Minister Manuel Valls under fire from his own Socialist lawmakers.

Pupils blockaded several high schools in the Paris region on Thursday in protest at expulsions as the government sought to deflect blame from Valls,promising to review the treatment of Leonarda Dibrani,whose family entered France illegally in 2009 and had exhausted legal appeals against expulsion.

The police have said they were carrying out orders after the family’s application for political asylum was turned down on grounds of “insufficient prospect of social and economic integration” in France.

Dibrani,who is of Roma descent,told French media this week that she felt ashamed at being detained in front of her schoolmates,wanted to return to France and felt lost in Kosovo.

Valls has stepped up rhetoric against Roma migrants living in illegal camps in French cities as support for the far-right anti-immigration National Front has surged in opinion polls ahead of municipal and European elections next year.

Government spokeswoman Najat Vallaud-Belkacem defended Valls and rebuffed calls for his resignation. On Wednesday,Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault told parliament that Dibrani,now back in Kosovo with her family,would be readmitted to France if the probe found that police had broken rules by arresting her on school property.

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