France: Police chase undocumented immigrants from Paris church
- Police chase "illegal" immigrants from Paris church
Sun Nov 3, 1:55 PM ET
PARIS - French police forced about 100 illegal immigrants to leave a Paris church they had occupied in a protest for residency papers.
The immigrants, mostly Asian and African, occupied the church in northern Paris as Mass began Saturday night, police said. When they refused to leave after the service let out, religious authorities asked police to intervene.
Shortly before midnight, police forced them to leave Saint Jacques-Saint Christophe de la Villette, at times pushing them out the door.
France's illegal immigrants have occupied churches over the years in sporadic protests for papers, and Roman Catholic leaders have generally permitted them to stay.
In August, illegal immigrants took over the gothic basilica of Saint-Denis, where France's royalty are buried. After two weeks, with the bishop pressing them to leave, the immigrants ended their movement.
Known in French as "sans papiers," or people without papers, illegal immigrants have waged a long campaign to win the rights of residents. The far right has opposed their efforts, blaming immigrants for high unemployment and rising crime.
The movement took on momentum after the Saint-Denis occupation, and recent protest marches in Paris have drawn thousands.
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