Years ago I decided to move to France. I wasn’t smart enough to fly there and stay until they kicked me out and I thought there must be a process. I wrote the embassy an effusive letter about their wonderful and beautiful country, and asked what I needed to do.

They wrote back in the most gentile French fashion, and sent me a fat book titled something like “So You Want To Move To France?”

I remember the book starting on a happy note:

We’d love to have you! We love everyone! We wish you a happy life. The following guide tells you how you can make us happy by moving to our fine landmark and historical country.

So far, I was pretty happy. The next section outlined aid to the French Community. Everyone, they said, who is a citizen of the French Community is, in fact, a French citizen and is free to participate freely in every area of French life.

The rest of the book – about half an inch thick – reiterated the same theme on every page: we would love for you to move to France. But we need you to understand that you will never be eligible for aid from the state of France. You cannot move here without notarized documentation from your bank that you have savings enough to never work during your stay. We will need a letter from a medical insurance company working in France saying that you are insured and the premium is paid for the next year. Please be advised that you will need to forward funds to the state of France that will pay for you and your family to be returned to your country of origin. When these items are complete (checklist enclosed), we ask that you pay the state to perform a full background check of all family members moving to France. Upon completion and approval we will be glad to have you.

In other words, unless you are from the Ivory Coast or St. Pierre and Miquelon, you and your family will be entirely in your own in France. No part of the public sector will be available to you without paying.

I scratch my head about this every time I watch TV news and immigration comes up. Maybe it’s a good thing that the US isn’t as progressive and giving as other, more advanced, Western countries.

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