French Immigration Museum Highlights Hot Topic La Cite de l'Immigration, on Paris' eastern edge, is a grand forum dedicated to exploring hundreds of years of immigration in France. It opens as a new and tougher immigration bill makes its way through the French parliament.
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French Immigration Museum Highlights Hot Topic

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French Immigration Museum Highlights Hot Topic

French Immigration Museum Highlights Hot Topic

French Immigration Museum Highlights Hot Topic

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La Cite de l'Immigration, on Paris' eastern edge, is a grand forum dedicated to exploring hundreds of years of immigration in France. It opens as a new and tougher immigration bill makes its way through the French parliament.

STEVE INSKEEP, Host:

Eleanor Beardsley reports.

ELEANOR BEARDSLEY: Unidentified Man #1: (French spoken)

(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO)

BEARDSLEY: For much of its history, France has been a country of mass immigration. And today one in three French people has a foreigner in their family tree. Jacques Toubon is the leader of the museum project.

JACQUES TOUBON: A lot of people, probably the majority, are thinking that immigration is against our country, you know, against France. And history is showing to us immigration was contributing to build what is France today - a kind of civilization which is made of different cultures, way of lives, religions.

BEARDSLEY: Unidentified Man #2: (French spoken)

BEARDSLEY: But Sarkozy, himself the son of a Hungarian immigrant, has never apologized for his belief that immigrants should fully integrate into French society. During the presidential campaign, he attracted tens of thousands of voters from the far right by promising to get tough on immigration.

(SOUNDBITE OF CROWD)

BEARDSLEY: Back at the museum, two visitors are in a heated argument over the subject of immigration. Senegalese immigrant Jobal Dyali(ph) is watching the row.

JOBAL DYALI: (Through translator) There's a huge contradiction between what's happening today in France and what you see in this museum. We're against the DNA law because it means they don't want us to bring our families here from Africa. A man can't live without his family. When de Gaulle called upon the former colonies to come help and fight to liberate France, they sure didn't ask us to take a DNA test then.

BEARDSLEY: For NPR News, I'm Eleanor Beardsley in Paris.

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