[JURIST] Some 24,000 illegal immigrants with school-age children are waiting to learn whether they will be deported from France after the expiration of a Monday deadline set by French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy [official profile, in French; BBC profile] for residency applications. Sarkozy has spearheaded a drive to return the immigrants to their home countries, and the French government has even offered to pay their way out. Initially the government set a target date of October 2006 for the deportations, but then in the face of public outcry gave families with school-age children until the end of the academic year to file residency applications that would exempt them from the process. The deadline was afterwards extended once more until last Monday. Sarkozy announced last month that the Interior Ministry would grant residency to thousands of immigrant families with children in French schools [JURIST report], favoring granting citizenship to children born in France or who arrived before age 13, have been in French schools for two years, and have no link with their parents' country. Of the 24,000 applications received, however, only some 6000 immigrants are likely to be granted residency. Immigration officials have already begun deporting families with inadequate applications by summoning them to government offices and immediately deporting them without notice.
The French parliament passed a conservative immigration bill [JURIST report] in June that tightens restrictions on unskilled, non-EU immigrants and requires immigrants to sign a pledge to learn French and to abide by French law. AP has more.