1996 France: a new movement for Papers for All

Women Sans-Papiers during the occupation of a church in Paris.

In March 1996, 300 mainly African immigrants women, children and men began to occupy various premises in Paris, famously the Church of Saint-Bernard to demand Papers for all. For the first time, this demand brought together immigrants of all immigration status and all countries.

Unlike other movements against immigration controls, their movement was autonomous from NGOs and supporters. Women who were often leading the movement, have had sometimes to take their autonomy from men.

Since then, collective of Sans-Papiers have continued the fight for equality of rights with those with Papers.

We published a booklet and subtitled the film ‘The Ballad of the Sans-Papiers’ to spread the ‘lessons’ this movement has taught us all.