By Miriam I. Ticktin
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Additional info for Casualties of Care: Immigration and the Politics of Humanitarianism in France
We were humans confronted with immense difficulties. ” (1997b:1). The sans-papiers took control of their own situation; while associations and mediators helped, the sans-papiers led the way, refusing to let sa n s - pa p i e r s a n d p o l i t i c a l s t r u g g l e 33 anyone speak on their behalf. In many ways, this marked their emergence as political actors. They coined the term sans-papiers, literally “without papers,” to move away from the criminality and suspicion associated with clandestinity to a focus on people deprived of basic rights.
There were no bathrooms in the immediate vicinity, leaving the refugees and immigrants to be accompanied to the bathroom by a police officer, who often refused to perform this duty after a certain hour. 15 During my primary period of research, from 1999 to 2001, the state allowed eight associations to visit, but each was only allowed eight visits per year, in controlled time periods; they required advance notice, and the association members were accompanied by border police at all times. These, in addition to visits by members of parliament and investigations run by the European Council’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture, revealed that people’s rights were regularly violated (Rodier sa n s - pa p i e r s a n d p o l i t i c a l s t r u g g l e 39 2003).
At the monthly meetings and regular 36 politics and care protest marches, I saw her alternate between tears and deep anger, often in one sentence, at the sheer frustration of being treated as though she did not exist. As Drissia’s case illustrates, what counts as proof of uninterrupted presence is unclear—it depends on the interpretation of each immigration official. For people who have been trying to erase any trace of their presence so as not to be deported, providing official proof of each month of residence for over ten years is a nearly impossible task—practically a contradiction in terms.
Casualties of Care: Immigration and the Politics of Humanitarianism in France by Miriam I. Ticktin