This weekend, in Paris’s 18th arrondissement, an undocumented migrant worker made international headlines when he scaled four stories of a building on rue Marx Dormoy to save a four-year-old child dangling from the balcony.
— Hannah Jane Parkinson (@ladyhaja) May 27, 2018
Twenty two-year-old Mamoudou Gassama’s heroic feat quickly went viral, and those on the internet weren’t the only ones to take notice.
French President Emmanuel Macron invited Gassama to the presidential palace and said that authorities would work to “regularize” his paperwork.
Avec M. GASSAMA qui a sauvé samedi la vie d’un enfant en escaladant 4 étages à mains nues. Je lui ai annoncé qu’en reconnaissance de cet acte héroïque il allait être régularisé dans les plus brefs délais, et que la brigade des sapeurs-pompiers de Paris était prête à l’accueillir. pic.twitter.com/xMpFlP1UFe
— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) May 28, 2018
“With Mr. Gassama who on Saturday saved the life of a child by climbing 4 stories with his bare hands. I told him that in recognition of this heroic act, his paperwork was going to be regularized as soon as possible, and that the fire brigade of Paris was ready to welcome him,” he tweeted (translated to English).
France’s official “Elysée” account reiterated Macron’s offer that Mr. Gassama could join the ranks of the French firefighters should he decide to do so.
— Élysée (@Elysee) May 28, 2018
Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo also spoke with Gassama by phone to thank him for his heroism and indicated that he expressed a desire to stay in the country.
“I replied that his heroic gesture was an example for all citizens and that the city of Paris will obviously be keen to support his efforts to settle in France,” Hidalgo said.
“I did it because it was a child,” Gassama said of his own heroic actions, according to Le Parisien. “I climbed. … Thank God I saved him.”
The child was allegedly unattended and had ventured onto the balcony before getting stuck on the railing.
Gassama, who is originally from Mali, had arrived in France in 2017 after spending several years in Italy. He has struggled to find work and is considered only an “economic migrant” in France.
The heroism holds special significance in today’s world given Trump’s continued attempts to normalize the dehumanization of immigrants. With reports that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) in the United States are willfully separating migrant children from their parents and have even lost nearly 1,500 children, the scene in France comes in stark contrast to that of the United States.
Notwithstanding the fact that immigrants have been a driving force for growth, innovation and entrepreneurship, a boon for social services and an important component of “soft power” for the United States, they are also human beings, a fact that, among so many others, has been lost on a president desperate to pander to his tribalistic base.
While Trump tries to save his dismal approval ratings, French President Emmanuel Macron’s words and actions are an inspiration to the world and, more importantly, a much needed lesson in humanity for his American counterpart.