US Anzoumane Sissoko, former undocumented migrant, "climate refugee" and elected representative of the Republic

14:15  18 october  2020
14:15  18 october  2020 Source:   nouvelobs.com

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  Anzoumane Sissoko, ancien sans-papier, « réfugié climatique » et élu de la République © Copyright 2020, L'Obs

On the Place de la République in Paris, he settles the last details in French and Malinké, a dialect Malian. Above all, leave nothing to chance for the march of this Saturday, October 17, where thousands of demonstrators must parade in Paris. Anzoumane Sissoko wears his T-shirt with the image of the march, but he could just as easily have put on his elected official's scarf. Since the last municipal elections, the former sans-papier has been deputy in the 18th arrondissement. He is not inset but he is on the green list because his story, he says, is closely linked to it. He considers himself a climate refugee.

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This Saturday, October 17, Anzoumane Sissoko is leading the procession to chant the three demands of the demonstrators: regularization of the undocumented, closure of the centers of retention and “housing for all”. For a month, he has been organizing, with the undocumented migrants and the 230 organizations taking part in the march, the convergence of all the demonstrators. This 55-year-old market cleaner knows the streets of Paris by heart. The route, he matured, with his comrades. This mobilization resonates with his own history: he himself left his small village in the region of Kaynes, Mali to come to France in 1993. The former sans-papiers did not forget his twenty-two years of hardship before to be naturalized in 2015.

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“No rain, no work”

“In the country”, Anzoumane Sissoko was a farmer but living conditions were difficult. "If there is no rain, there is no work," he regrets. He left Mali because of the drought: “I consider myself more of a climate refugee than an economic migrant”. At 29, he left for a neighboring country: Guinea-Conakry. The border is a few kilometers from his village. Thanks to his family, he manages to finance his trip to Europe, to Brussels. Then he pays to take him to Paris. An icy landing for this Malian, who treads the capital in winter.

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The first night, he secretly joins an acquaintance who was sleeping in a hostel on the rue des Amandiers, in Paris. Then, he finds his cousin in Villejuif. No way to stand idly by: he moonlighted as a material handler until the early 2000s. “I use my hands. I don't have a diploma, ”he explains. At the same time, he got married for the first time. Religiously. But he divorced in 2010 to remarry in 2016, civilly, this time.

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This father of two has come a long way since he plowed the fields in Mali. He remembers:

“I applied for naturalization. The prefecture initially refused, explaining that I had been undocumented for a long time. I had to prove that I had already taken steps all this time. "

The future elected official was naturalized in 2015. He now wishes to draw inspiration from his experiences to give meaning to the position he has held since last July. At the municipal council of the 18th arrondissement, where he has almost always lived, he is in charge of international solidarity and hospitality.

It was Anne-Claire Boux, a member of the Greens and deputy mayor of Paris in charge of city policy, who approached the activist. “We wanted the list in the 18th district to reflect the borough. A land where there is great diversity. And immigration is very much linked to ecology: Anzoumane is a climate refugee. It's important to have people like him who have been through this journey. Who better than him, a former undocumented man, could bear this problem? ". He joins them without joining EELV.

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Anzoumane Sissoko became politicized after having organized more than thirty squats, among which the Labor Exchange and the CPAM for fourteen months respectively, as well as the Saint-Bernard Church, in 1996. Several times arrested, the he former undocumented person escaped deportation to Mali at the last minute, after being held in administrative centers. Since then, he has vigorously challenged France's migration policy. In 2014, he had already tried to create a “list of the voiceless” [partly made up of undocumented migrants]. It had been invalidated by the prefecture. His regularization did not change his mind:

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"Me, I'm not Sibeth N’Diaye, rejects Anzoumane Sissoko. I'm not saying 'thank you' to France for all this because I was able to get papers. For me, this is just one step. I was undocumented, I am regularized, but it did not do me much, said the elected official. Just because I became deputy does not mean that I endorse all the policies the state has pursued. I came to the town hall to ensure that things evolve and bring ideas. "When he does not celebrate weddings or do not ensure permanence, he fights for the regularization of all, the requisition of buildings to house undocumented and homeless people, and the" right to vote for foreigners at all. the elections ”(even if the town hall does not have the power to decide).

"Narrowing the gap"

"I came to politics to reduce the gap," says Anzoumane Sissoko. "It is a beautiful symbol that Anzoumane is elected. It shows that you can be an actor in the territory whatever your status and that you can change it, ”confirms Eric Lejoindre, the socialist mayor of the 18th arrondissement. From France, Anzoumane Sissoko is also trying to help the people of Mali as much as he can. In particular, he created a school (mixed girls / boys), he returns to “the village” every year. But he does not envision a definitive return "to the country", as he puts it.

Crézia Ndongo

The other public health crisis .
We need the medical community’s help in expanding the climate change conversation from the environment to the real and present danger it poses to public health — particularly to the most vulnerable among us. Lives depend on it.David J. Hayes is executive Ddirector of the State Energy & Environmental Impact Center at the NYU School of Law; he served as deputy secretary and chief operating officer of the U.S. Department of the Interior in the Clinton and Obama administrations. Richard L. Revesz is Lawrence King professor of Law and dean Emeritus at NYU School of Law, where he directs the Institute for Policy Integrity.

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This is interesting!