Last update : October 2019

Over the past 20 years or so, arrests and deportation procedures have multiplied. In addition to arrests of undocumented migrants during routine checks, many are checked and arrested during round-ups (identity checks on the face with large police devices). And more and more people are being stopped at home.

The figures are growing; it is a political will that is now being assumed.

In theory, in order for the State to expel, it is necessary to:

  • that the cops and the prefecture respect certain procedural rules regarding arrest and the conditions of confinement in the CRA (Administrative Detention Center),
  • that a State agrees to receive the deportee.

Knowing this legal framework can enable everyone to use it to prevent an expulsion. If it is proved to the court that the procedure was not followed and the judge accepts it, then the person is released; if at the end of the legal detention period (90 days) the cops have no passport or a consul’s pass, the undocumented person is released.

The defense is not only legal. In order to better cope with the state, we think it is preferable to participate in a collective of undocumented migrants or to organize with those around them to be ready to react after an arrest (find a lawyer experienced in foreigners’ law, hide one’s passport,
(e.g., gathering documents, applying pressure, etc.).

To send a person back to a foreign country, the French State must have either a valid passport or a laissez-passer issued by the consulate of the country from which he is recognized as originating. If the cops, the judge or the prefecture have the valid passport, all they have to do is find a seat on a plane.
If the passport is expired, the cops have the real identity and must present the person before the consulate from which he or she originates.

If the authorities do not know from which country the undocumented migrant comes from, the cops will have to present him or her to several consulates likely to recognize him or her.

We know two main types of defence:

  • if you want to give your real identity: the defence strategy will cover both the circumstances of your arrest and custody (procedural flaws) and your administrative situation. In this case, it is better to have prepared a file, whether or not it has already been submitted to the prefecture.

  • if you prefer to give a false identity (name and/or nationality), for example, because you think you have no chance of being regularised. In this case, you should always give the same false name to avoid the cops coming across other names with your fingerprints. It is also important that your relatives or your collective know this false name. Be careful, if the cops discover that you have given a false identity, you can be prosecuted, but this is not always the case. You could face up to 3 years in prison, but usually 3 to 6 months.

In any case, it is preferable not to carry your passport, even if it is expired, or any paper that proves your real identity, so that you have time to organize yourself against deportation. In fact, the State seeks to arrest undocumented migrants with their passports. For example, the cops post themselves near the Bank of Mali to catch people who need their passports to withdraw money. The passport does not have to stay at the undocumented migrant’s home either (in case the cops come to get it), the best thing to do is to hide it with friends.

GISTI Guide: what to do after an OQTF


Fiche-réflexe : OQTF l’essentiel en 4 pages et le recours ” minute ” (OQTF in French)
March 11, 2019

Faced with the increasing complexity of the law, this fact sheet provides simple elements for identifying the measures of obligation to leave the territory and understanding the procedures before the courts. It enables everyone to adopt the right reflexes, particularly in dealing with lawyers, and to find out what preventive advice to give to the administration and the police.

Fiche-réflexe : house arrest - expulsion
March 5, 2019

This sheet provides the identification elements of the house arrest: control and expulsion measure. It helps to understand the main issues at stake and to provide better information and guidance to persons subject to such measures.

Reflex card: interpellations and residences
September 18, 2017

This fact sheet summarises the rights of the persons accommodated, the individuals accommodating them and the social teams of accommodation centres in terms of house arrest in a context where practices and the law tend to develop these methods.

[Translated with (free version)]