Citizens of the French Department Mayotte are Taking Immigration Reform into their Own Hands

It’s easy to forget that Europe’s immigration crisis has brought into question exactly where the borders of European nations lie… and in France’s case, it’s not just where Germany and Switzerland start.

Welcome to Mayotte, a small island off the coast of Madagascar that has been a part of France since 1841. The Mahorais speak French, have EU passports, and, just like many people in France, want immigrants to get on out of their country. As one of the more prosperous islands in the region, it is a popular stop-off for undocumented migrants, and its citizens are doing everything they can to get rid of them. The anti-immigrant organization le CODIM has been particularly outspoken, even orchestrating décasages, or vigilante raids where groups of people seek out immigrant dwellings and destroy them in the hopes of driving them out.

“The Mahorais are not xenophobic,” says CODIM president Maila Mouhadji in this VICE interview. “The Mahorais are claiming the right to what is theirs. We can’t house the world’s poor in Mayotte.” Sound familiar? Nativist sentiment like Mouhadji’s has been spreading around the world, whether the banners say “Brexit” or “Build that wall!” Viewed individually, these platforms can seem unintimidating. But as this video shows, when that sentiment spreads, even a nation of 200,000 people can make a big difference in the lives of immigrants looking to build their lives in a foreign place.