Last update : December 2023

Over the last twenty years or so, arrests and deportation procedures have increased. In addition to the arrests of undocumented people during ordinary checks, many are stopped and arrested during raids (identity checks often based on racial profiling, with heavy police presence). And more and more people are being stopped in their own accomodation.

Key points

  • The number of people being deported is growing; it’s the result of a political will to do so that is now fully acknowledged.

In theory, for the State to be able to deport a person, it is necessary that :

  • the police and the prefecture respect certain procedural rules concerning the arrest and the conditions of detention in the CRA (Centre de Rétention Administrative),

  • a State must agree to receive the person being deported.

  • Knowing this legal framework can enable anyone to use it to prevent deportation. If it is proved to the court that the procedure has not been followed, and the judge accepts this, then the person is released; if at the end of the legal period of detention (90 days), there is neither a passport nor a laissez-passer from a consul, the undocumented person is released.

  • If you are arrested with the risk of being deported, go and see an association specialised in defending the rights of foreign nationals.

Additional information

Defending yourself is not just a legal matter. To better defend yourself against the State, we think it’s best to take part in a collective of undocumented people or to organise yourself and those around you to be ready to react after an arrest (find a lawyer experienced in immigration law, hide your passport, gather documents, apply pressure, etc.).

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

There are two main types of defending yourself:

  • if you want to give your true identity: the defence strategy will focus both on the circumstances of your arrest and police custody (procedural flaws) as well as on your administrative situation. In this case, it is best to have prepared a file, whether or not it has already been lodged with 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 police finding other names with your fingerprints. It is also important that this false name is known to your family and friends. Note that if the police discover that you have given a false identity, you may be prosecuted under criminal law, but this is not always the case. You could then face up to 3 years’ imprisonment, but usually between 3 and 6 months.

In any case, it’s best not to walk around with your passport, even if it’s out of date, or any other document that proves your real identity, so as to have time to organise against deportation. For example, the police is stationed near the Bank of Mali to catch people who must have their passport to withdraw money. The passport should not be left at home either (in case the cops come looking for it), so it’s best to hide it at a friend’s place.