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Macron tackles French immigration ‘anxieties’ with new law

#Macron #tackles #French #immigration #anxieties #law

French President Emmanuel Macron is set to make a second attempt at increasing expulsions of illegal immigrants after a series of scandals and under fierce pressure from his far-right opponents.

Macron’s centrist government is set to unveil the outlines of a new draft immigration law on Tuesday that will be debated formally in parliament in early 2023.

It comes just four years after a 2018 law with similar objectives, passed during Macron’s first term in office, which was also aimed at taking the heat out of an explosive political issue.

“It’s about integrating better and expelling better,” Macron’s hardline interior minister, Gerald Darmanin, told France Inter radio on Tuesday of the new proposals.

“We want those people who work, not those who rob.”

Darmanin and Macron have clearly linked immigration to crime in recent weeks, with both saying that around half of petty crimes committed in Paris are by foreigners.

Speaking to the Parisien newspaper at the weekend, Macron pitched the new law as a means of addressing the historic rise of the far-right National Rally, which since June is the biggest opposition party in parliament.

“We need a policy that is firm and humane in line with our values,” the 44-year-old said. “It’s the best antidote to the extremes which feed off anxieties.”

Figures from the interior ministry show that France currently expels around 10 percent of migrants who have been ordered to leave the country and the rate has never been higher than 20 percent.

– ‘Nothing will change’ –

Around 13,000 were expelled in 2021, a year when around 120,000 asylum claims were lodged.

The country’s lengthy legal appeals process, bureaucracy and a lack of state resources are seen as reasons for the low expulsion rate, which Darmanin has pledged to increase.

Like many European countries, France also struggles to persuade countries in North and West Africa to re-admit their citizens once they are subject to an expulsion order.

French far-right leader Marine Le Pen, who scored 41 percent in the second round of April’s presidential election, regularly accuses the government of laxity and “submerging” France with foreigners.

In her third bid for the presidency this year, she proposed changing the constitution via a referendum to speed up expulsions, set immigration targets and ensure French people got priority over foreigners for all state services. 

“I don’t expect anything (from the new law),” she said on Tuesday. “They will talk to us again about balancing firmness and humanity. We’ve heard that for decades.

“Nothing will change… immigration in our country is completely out of control.”

A gruesome murder of a 12-year-old schoolgirl in Paris in October caused a major political scandal after it emerged that her killer was an Algerian woman who had been ordered to leave the country.

The chaotic management of 234 migrants and asylum seekers who landed in France in November aboard the charity rescue ship Ocean Viking has also embarrassed the government.

– Legal migration route – 

Although the interior ministry initially said most of the adults had been refused entry to France, only a handful were detained after they lodged asylum claims and court appeals.

The new draft legislation, which Darmanin has co-written, would reduce the number of appeals possible for failed asylum seekers from 12 to three and in theory speed up expulsion procedures.

It would also remove safeguards for foreigners who arrived in France as children, making it easier to expel them if they are convicted of crimes — a measure designed to tackle teenage delinquents.

And there will be measures to offer speedier work permits to foreign workers with skills required in particular sectors of the economy, a system already in place in countries such as Australia and Canada.

Macron’s MPs are a minority in parliament, meaning the bill will need support from opposition parties such as the conservative Republicans, which have criticised the proposals as too weak.

France has passed 29 different laws on immigration since 1980.

Nearly eight in 10 French people think the government has failed to control new arrivals, according to a poll by the CSA survey group published by the CNews channel last month.

Around seven in 10 think there are too many foreigners in France, multiple polls this year have shown.

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#Macron #tackles #French #immigration #anxieties #law

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