The immigration bill put forward by the French government and endorsed by the right-wing “Les Republicains” party is under intense criticism from various political and social factions. These critics are demanding the withdrawal of the bill, citing what they perceive as an “accumulation” of repressive measures against immigrants, a significant segment of French society.
The Senate has recently commenced the examination of the immigration bill, sparking heated debates between proponents and opponents. The French non-governmental organization “CIMADE,” comprising 35 associations and groups representing undocumented immigrants, held a press conference expressing strong opposition to the bill. According to Fanélie Carrey-Conte, the Secretary-General of CIMADE, the proposed legislation is seen as a collection of repressive and security measures that contradict the values of the French Republic and humanitarian principles. The association urged lawmakers to reject the bill and questioned the absence of a welcoming and solidarity approach, emphasizing the need to address border tragedies and migrant deaths.
A joint statement from the 35 organizations called on MPs to reject the bill, expressing concerns about certain amendments, including those suggesting the detention of asylum seekers and limitations on family reunification. Delphine Rouilleault, the general director of France Terre d’Asile, voiced worries about the potential setbacks introduced by these amendments, particularly those challenging the rights of children born in France to foreign parents.
The bill, defended by Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin and Labor Minister Olivier Dussopt, aims to streamline the expulsion of foreigners disrupting public order and introduce measures for the integration of non-legally resident workers. It also proposes reforms to the asylum and detention system, imposes restrictions on family reunification, and removes the right to acquire citizenship for those born on French soil. Critics argue that the most concerning aspect is granting the administration unilateral authority in deportations, sidelining judicial oversight.
The conservative-dominated Senate opposes granting legal status to undocumented workers, fearing it would attract more migrants. Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne rejected this claim, stating that the provision would benefit long-term, well-integrated residents. The debate is expected to intensify in the National Assembly, where Macron’s centrist alliance lacks a majority, requiring the support of conservative lawmakers for the bill to pass.
Immigration has always been a thorny and complicated issue France. The country has seen social problems and turmoil as a result of the large number of immigrants living in the country. There have always been debates and finger-pointing.
In its first research on immigration in ten years, the national statistics office INSEE stated in March 2023 that ten percent of French citizens in 2021 were foreign-born. “Born a foreigner in a foreign country” refers to the nearly seven million immigrants who made up 10.3 percent of France’s total population that year. By contrast, the percentage of foreign-born citizens in France in 1968 was 6.5%. According to the report, over 33% of immigrants in France in 2021 become French citizens. Immigrants and their descendants had mostly assimilated into society, with many of them having French-born children.
Left-wing lawmakers and human rights activists staged a demonstration in front of the Senate, and historian Benjamin Stora added his voice to the opposition, republishing an article criticizing the extreme right’s anti-immigrant stance. Stora emphasized the importance of granting immigrants the right to work and reside in France.
The article concluded by condemning proposed measures that restrict land law, abolish regularization for undocumented workers in certain occupations, and transform State Medical Aid into Emergency Medical Aid. It argued that these measures undermine the welcoming traditions of the Republic, focusing on issues like entry control, the proper application of asylum laws, integration challenges, and the uneven distribution of new arrivals.