NEW YORK — The Roma, persecuted for centuries, now face a form of discrimination unseen in Europe since World War II: group evictions and expulsions from several European democracies of men, women and children on the grounds that they pose a threat to public order.

Last week, France began to carry out plans to expel all non-French Roma, implicating them as a group in criminal activity, without any legal process to determine whether individuals have committed any crime or pose a threat to public order. These French actions follow Italy's "security package" of 2008, which described "nomads" as a threat to national security and imposed emergency legislation leading to expulsions of non-Italian Roma.

Stopping criminal activity is a legitimate government concern. But the expulsion of EU citizens on the basis of ethnicity as a proxy for criminal activity is a violation of EU directives on racial discrimination and the right to move freely from one EU member-state to another.