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ALL IN THE FAMILY: Waly Diabira, left, came to France 41 years after his father Mamadou

Waly Diabira pats the cover on his bed in the cramped fifth-floor room he shares with two men in a red-brick dormitory building for immigrants near Paris' Left Bank. "My father slept on this same bed, in this same room, for many years," he says. In 1950, his father, Mamadou Diabira, left their tiny village in Mali and caught a steamboat to Europe, where he worked as a street cleaner in Paris for about 25 years, receiving a certificate of thanks signed by then mayor Jacques Chirac. Waly, a 32-year-old building cleaner, only got to know his father when he sneaked...

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