Citizenship by birth in France and other countries.

Much of the current French rioting appears to center around the economic disadvantages facing French-born children of Muslim immigrants to France.

I know that in some countries, such as the U.S., every child born in the country becomes a citizen of that country (with some unusual exceptions such as children of diplomats, etc.). Conversely, I understand that in some countries such as Germany and Kuwait, children born in the country to non-citizen parents do not automatically gain citizenship at birth.

So, what is the status of children born in France to non-citizen parents, and are there any legal (as opposed to cultural) reasons that they may be limited in their employment possibilities?

Further, for other countries, what is the citizenship status of children born there to non-citizen parents, and what factors does it depend on?

This Washington Post atricle echos a statement I heard on talk radio earlier this week:

Of course, if “several lawmakers” is not your idea of a proper world citizenship cite (and it’s certainly not mine) then there is this huge PDF (233 pages) from the US Office of Personnel Management, appropriately titled “Citizenship Laws of the World”. It contains, oddly enough, the citizenship laws of every nation on earth. It is dated 2001, so some changes may have occured but it seems to be a good place to start.

Thank you Doctor! That’s a darned well-written and comprehensive document!

France gave up “citizenship by birth” around 1990 (I don’t remember when exactly), when a number of restrictive laws about immigration and citizenship where implemented.
Now, though I don’t have in mind the exact details, besides being born in France, one must apply for citizenship when one turns 18 (in which case it’s automatically granted). There might be some other condition (for instance being currently living in France, but I’m not 100% sure).
Besides, being born from a french parent gives you citizenship too, and the wide majority of these youth’s parents have acquired french citizenship. So, I would assume that the overwhelming majority of the rioters are french citizen, though there are probably some exceptions : children of immigrants whose parents still are only residents and not citizens, weren’t themselves (the children) born in France or didn’t turn 18, so they can’t apply themselves for citizenship on the basis of having been legal residents for a number of years or of being born in France.

But it’s nowadays very difficult for someone coming from a third world country to become a legal immigrant in France, except by marriage (but in this case, the child would be a french citizen too in most cases), so there’s not much in the way of recent legal immigrants and few legal residents pass on the chance of applying for french citizenship (which is possible, IIRC, after five years) especially since France does’t demand to renounce to other citizenships.

We could be left with children of illegal immigrants, (who like for chidren of legal immigrants either weren’t born in France or still didn’t turn 18), but illegal immigrants rarely manage to bring in their families, and if they have children with a legal resident, we’re back to the previous situation. Besides, an illegal alien normally shoudn’t be able to live with his family in a public housing, where these riots are taking place.
So, there must be some non-french citizens amongst them, but they’re in all likehood a small minority. If they face discrimination when seeking a job (or an appartment) it’s certainly on the basis of racial/religious/cultural discrimination, not because they aren’t french.

Thanks for all of the answers, particularly your “feet on the ground” view, clairobscur.

To what extent is job and housing discrimination on the basis of race, religion or national origin prohibited in France under law (do EU laws apply also?), and to what extent are any anti-discrimination laws enforced?

I was wrong (so, thanks for this question that helped dispell my ignorance). Upon further enquiry, the law I was refering too has been repelled since, and currently, a person born in France automatically (no need to apply) gets french citizenship when he turns 18 if :

-He’s living in France
-He lived in France for at least 5 of the 7 years between 11 and 18.
-He doesn’t, within 12 months after he turns 18, officially renounces to french citizenship

Actually, I doubt they’re actively searching for people fulfilling these conditions and granting them citizenship without their knowledge, but in practical terms, it means that, contrarily to the former law in force during the 90s, he won’t be denied citizenship because he didn’t apply just after he turned 18.
If his parents are legal residents, he can get french citizenship at any age, at the request of his parents (with his agreement if he’s older than 13).
So, basically, nowadays, besides being born in France, you have to live there until you’re 18 (theorically you could leave and sneak back in when you’re 13 or somesuch, but I doubt it’s an usual case) or your parents must be living legally in France.
Anybody born in france until 1993 (when the citizenship by birth system has been abolished) is also a french citizen in any case.

It is prohibited but difficult to enforce, because barring an unwise statement by the potential employer/landlord in front of witnesses, how do you prove you’ve been denied a job on the basis of you being named Mohammed rather than Pierre? When there are such cases, it’s generally because the potential employer has been stupid enough to let a written record (say, a note on a resume), issue some order to this effect, etc… and has some disgruntled or disgusted employee willing to spill the beans.
Recently, courts have accepted what is called “testing” as a sufficient evidence of discrimination, in some case (in particular access to clubs). The idea is to send at the same place people dressed similarily but of different ethnic origin, in the presence of a sworn official and check whether the european-looking ones are let in while the others are denied access. But it can’t be used for the most important issues, like lodging and job seeking since giving a job/renting a place isn’t just dependant on how you’re dressed and when you show up.
By the way, a study about job seeking discrimination (they sent identical resumes to employers changing just an element, either the ethnicity, the gender, or making the applicant an handiccaped) showed a very significant difference in the number of responses to the applications. I unfortunately don’t remember the figures, but there was a significant drop when the applicant was a woman, a very significant one when the applicant had a foreign (arab or african) looking name and a complete collapse of the number of responses when the applicant mentionned he was handicapped, even for a handicap irrelevant to the job he was applying for.