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New York Times: Foreign born women in France often work as nannies and caregivers--their employment rate has risen to 52.3% in 2008. With help from Femmes Egalité, a feminist organization with a 24-year history of organizing women in France and Africa, these women now have access to numbered photo ID cards that identify them as a member of a registered group of undocumented workers whose applications for working papers are under review. The organization has helped to legalize about 80 of the 93 applications submitted in 2008 and early 2009.
Galina Dubenco had a scare not long ago when she sent a suitcase to relatives back in Moldova. While she waited to load her cargo of gifts and clothes onto a bus, the police asked for her identity documents. It was the moment every illegal immigrant in France dreads. But Ms. Dubenco had an ace up her sleeve — a numbered photo ID card that identifies her as a member of a registered group of undocumented workers whose applications for working papers are under review. The police, puzzled, backed off.
These cards represent a small victory in a campaign by French unions and human rights advocacy groups to legalize illegal immigrants — the “sans-papiers” — who already hold jobs. It is a slog, involving laborious case-by-case reviews, which, since 2008, yielded success in more than 2,000 cases before slowing to a standstill in recent months.
As France fumbles with the question of how to integrate its immigrants, this halting effort is further proof that the country can’t quite do without them.
Ms. Dubenco, 32, is just one of thousands of foreign-born women — illegal and legal — who take care of France’s children, its sick and its elderly, not to mention doing its housework. After three years in France, she has five jobs, scattered around Paris: her five bosses have all signed documents attesting to their willingness to keep her employed."