France: Migrants Exploit EU Open Borders to Dodge Deportation, Spend Few Hours in Belgium and Return

French police control drivers' statements allowing them to be out of home on November 6, 2020 at the border with Belgium in Quievrechain during a lockdown imposed by French authorities in an attempt to halt the spread of the Covid-19. (Photo by FRANCOIS LO PRESTI / AFP) (Photo by FRANCOIS …

Roma gypsy migrants ordered to leave French territory have been using an EU loophole to avoid deportation, spending just hours across the border in Belgium and then returning.

The association Solidarité Roms Lille Europe has, for the last ten years, brought Roma originally from Romania and Bulgaria across the French border to Belgium after being handed deportation notices by the French government, it is claimed.

After crossing the border, the Roma fulfil their obligation to leave French territory and are given back their passports by the Belgian authorities. They then often simply return to France within a few hours, France Info reports — a process made easy by the European Union’s no-borders Schengen Agreement.

As the Roma are citizens of countries that are part of the European Union, they are allowed to reside in France for three months before having to justify their residency with proof of work, proof they are looking for work, or proof of enrolment in education.

When the migrants are unable to prove work or study, they are typically handed a deportation order but with the system Solidarité Roms Lille Europe has allegedly taken advantage of, few are actually deported from France permanently.

According to the local authorities in the Northern Prefecture of France, 1,000 deportation orders were handed out in 2020, but Dominique Plancke of Solidarité Roms Lille Europe says the figures do not reflect the reality of the situation.

“These figures are artificially inflated because last year we took 130 people back and these 130 people are still in France today. No-one is fooled,” Plancke boasted.

“Everyone knows — the prefecture, the border police, and us — that they are coming back and that we can do it again in three months. It doesn’t make any sense,” he said.

While the trick used by the Roma involves those with EU passports, France has faced difficulty deporting non-EU migrants as well in recent years.

In 2018, it was revealed that police in Paris arrested over 1,500 illegal Moroccan migrants but were only able to successfully deport six of them at the time.

Last year in February it was also reported that up to 40 per cent of the suspects in crimes in Paris were people born outside France.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)


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