If France's population of immigrant origin -- mostly Arab, some black -- is today quite large (more than 10% of the total population), it is because there was a government and industrial policy during the post-World War II boom years of reconstruction and economic expansion which the French call "les trentes glorieuses" -- the 30 glorious years -- to recruit from France's foreign colonies laborers and factory and menial workers for jobs which there were no Frenchmen to fill. These immigrant workers, primarily from North Africa, were desperately needed to allow the French economy to expand due to the shortage of male manpower caused by two World Wars, which killed many Frenchmen, and slashed the native French birth-rates too. Moreover, these immigrant workers (especially Moroccans, particularly favored in the auto industry) were favored by industrial employers as passive and unlikely to strike (in sharp contrast to the highly political Continental French working class and its militant, largely Communist-led unions) and cheaper to hire. In some industries, for this reason, literacy was a disqualification -- because an Arab worker who could read could educate himself about politics and become more susceptible to organization into a union.
(. . .)
France's other immigrant workers were warehoused in huge, high-rise low-income housing ghettos -- known as "cités" (Americans would say "the projects") -- specially built for them, and deliberately placed out of sight in the suburbs around most of France's major urban agglomerations, so that their darker-skinned inhabitants wouldn't pollute the center cities of Paris, Lyon, Toulouse, Lille, Nice and the others of white France's urban centers, today encircled by flames. Often there was only just enough public transport provided to take these uneducated working class Arabs and blacks directly to their jobs in the burgeoning factories of the "peripherique" -- the suburban peripheries that encircled Paris and its smaller sisters -- but little or none linking the ghettos to the urban centers.
Chilling and much too familiar.