At 18, these young migrants who risk becoming undocumented

Yaya Bah, 20, doesn’t believe it yet. Patricia Hyvernat, 53 years old, a little older. Since February 9, the second had been on hunger strike so that the first would not be deported. On February 23, the two learned that they will be received at the Ain prefecture on Wednesday March 3, with a view to a favorable outcome. No doubt thanks to the 12,800 people who signed their petition and to the LREM deputy Stéphane Trompille, moved by his story.

Having left Guinea at the age of 14, sold to an entrepreneur in Libya, Yaya arrived in France at the age of 16 in 2017, where he was taken care of by Social Assistance for Children. While looking for an internship, he crosses paths with Patricia in a market, who sells the bread she and her companion make on their farm. “We took it in the bakery and we discovered a very nice, motivated, courageous young person who has adapted very well to our lifestyle”, she says. The couple, whose nine children are grown up, decide to take him on as an apprentice. But, at 18, Yaya does not obtain a residence permit… until the situation is resolved.

→ READ. A baker on hunger strike to support his migrant employee

Like Yaya Bah, Laye Fodé Traore, also Guinean, was regularized in mid-January, and even naturalized, after the hunger strike of his boss, Stéphane Ravacley, baker in Besançon (Doubs). In Haute-Loire, Madama Diawara, a 19-year-old young Malian on an apprenticeship contract with breeders, has just learned that his obligation to leave the territory was suspended, the time to examine new identity documents. . Eric Durupt, the teacher who welcomes him to his home, hopes not to have to resume his hunger strike, which lasted three weeks.

Thousands of young people affected

The situation of these young people, brought to light by these radical acts of support, is only the tip of the iceberg. “I think there are thousands of them finding themselves without papers while we are lacking in the hands of our companies”, estimates the baker Stéphane Ravacley, in contact with about twenty “solidarity bosses”. In 2019, no less than 40,000 “unaccompanied minors” (unaccompanied minors) were taken care of by social assistance for children. What becomes of them when they come of age?

According to the law, “If they were taken care of before the age of 16, they have followed a serious training course and have not had a problem, at the age of 18, they are automatically issued a private life family title, details Solène Ducci, lawyer at Gisti. On the other hand, young people taken in charge after the age of 16 can obtain an exceptional admission to stay but this is a discretionary power of the prefect. ” Young people must submit their application before their 19e anniversary. The prefecture then looks to see if they can prove their identity, the absence of attachment to their country of origin and non-commission of public order disturbances, as well as six months of professional training.

→ PORTRAIT. Reza Jafari, spokesperson for Afghan migrants

But, while the number of unaccompanied minors tripled between 2016 and 2019, “We observe more and more refusals to grant residence permits”, Solène Ducci alert. The prefectures seem more and more picky in the examination of documents, including for countries with failing civil status, or in the application of a recent instruction which results in the termination of the work permit from 18 years old. . “In Île-de-France, there are also departments where files are blocked because the dematerialized counters are saturated”, adds Armelle Gardien, activist of the Hauts-de-Seine Education Without Borders Network. Hence a very wide variety of treatment. “In Charente-Maritime, we don’t have too many problems”, emphasizes Didier Meyerfeld, from Solidarité Migrants de La Rochelle. Conversely, “In Ain, at 18, only 5% of them on average obtain a residence permit”, explains Michel Caron, president of Alefpa, who specifies that “In the Var, in the last months of 2019, nine out of ten young people did not have a residence permit”.

Without a residence permit, these young people go underground. “It’s a huge waste, not only because each young person in care costs society an average of 100,000 € per year, but also and above all because these are kids who know that their integration can only happen through work and who are very very motivated, recalls Rémi Barbas, head of department at the Apprentis d’Auteuil Foundation in Dijon. With our unaccompanied minors, 90% of internships turn into apprenticeship and one in two apprenticeships into permanent contracts. It is also not uncommon for the owners to vouch for their accommodation, so much they want to keep them. “


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