France will give residence papers to an illegal immigrant from Mali who scaled the facade of a Paris apartment block to save a boy who was about to fall from a fourth-floor balcony, President Emmanuel Macron said Monday.
Video shows Mamoudou Gassama, 22, risking his life Sunday as he climbed up the balconies to rescue the 4-year-old who is clinging to a railing and glancing at the ground below, while horrified onlookers watch.
The video went viral and Gassama, who has been nicknamed “Spider-Man” for making the rescue in less than a minute, was swiftly granted a meeting at the Elysee Palace.
“This is an exceptional act,” Macron told Gassama. “We’ll obviously be setting all your papers straight and if you wish it, we will start the process naturalization so that you can become French.”
Gassama told Macron he tried to cross the Mediterranean in March 2014 to reach Italy, but was caught by police.
Europe has faced a migrant crisis since 2015 following wars in Libya and Syria and more than 1 million people from Africa and the Middle East have tried to reach the continent via Turkey or by sea.
Macron’s government has said it wants to be both firm and fair on immigration, but it took a tougher stance lately, with parliament approving a bill that tightens asylum rules.