Politics of Regularization and Migrant Domestic Labor: The Case of Filipino Domestic Workers in Paris

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 15:30
Oral Presentation
Ruri ITO, Hitotsubashi University, Japan
Based on fieldwork I have conducted intermittently over the past eight years in Paris, this paper examines how the politics of legal status among Filipino domestic workers in the French capital affects their lives in terms of labor conditions, social integration, life projects and social reproduction. With an estimated current population of around 50,000, the Filipino community, since its early phase of immigration in the mid-1970s, has been known for its high proportion of women migrants working in the niche sector of domestic work in the rich quarters of Paris. Another salient feature of this community is its high rate of irregular migrants. Fresnoza-Flot (2017) explains this phenomenon as a de-facto family reunification that induces a “chain of irregularity.” Indeed, according to the Commission on Overseas Filipinos, the rate has stayed at around 80% throughout the 2000’s, peaking at 88% in 2005. The politics of regularization has, therefore, been a constant issue for the social reproduction of Filipinos in France.

This paper focuses on the regularization struggles experienced by Filipino woman migrants during the period 2008-2012, a period marked by Sarkozy’s neoliberal policy to promote “selective immigration (l’immigration choisie)” and Hortefeux’s circular for a case-by-case “regularization based on work.” The period also overlaps with the government’s policy to formalize the underground economy of domestic work. The purpose of this paper is twofold: First, it demonstrates how the “Private Household Workers” trade union made use of the neoliberal momentum to break the deadlock of “double irregularity” – i.e. irregularity both in terms of immigration status and worker’s status— among Filipino domestic workers. Second, based on interviews, the paper discusses the different outcomes Filipino women may live in the post-regularization phase and conditions attached to them.