France shipped about 100 Romani back to Romania Thursday, saying they agreed to leave voluntarily in exchange for the flight and a resettlement fee of $385, The New York Times reported Friday.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy has said the expulsion of those who overstay their temporary work permits and are unable to prove they have full-time employment is aimed at reducing crime and illegal immigration, though others disagree.
"The French are trying to insulate themselves from legal challenge, arguing that those who leave are doing so voluntarily and are not being expelled as a group," said Robert A. Kushen, executive director of the European Roma Rights Center in Budapest.
Expulsion should be done on a case-by-case basis and not based on a group of people, which violates European Union laws, Kushen said. Critics of the expulsions also say they are racist, focusing on ethnic and racial groups rather than any individual criminals.
Members of the Roma ethnic group are mostly from Romania and Bulgaria.