The French government is determined to forge ahead with its contentious immigration law despite a setback from the Constitutional Council.
Late Thursday night, the nine-member council invalidated numerous measures, primarily added to the bill due to right-wing and far-right pressures.
However, the core of the legislation, which signifies a substantial hardening of immigration rules, remains intact.
One of the most striking changes in the law is the provision allowing the deportation of foreigners legally residing in France with criminal convictions.
This includes individuals who arrived before age 13 or have lived in the country for over two decades if they are deemed a “grave threat to public order” and receive significant jail terms.
Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin expressed confidence in the government’s measures, stating that the Republic has never had a law as stringent as this.
Despite the Constitutional Council’s rejection of several added measures, Darmanin affirmed that the validated components would be put into practice soon.
The law also introduces restrictions on placing individuals under 18 in detention centres and grants prefects the authority to issue one-year residence permits to undocumented individuals working in sectors experiencing labour shortages, such as construction.
The ruling comes amid rising concerns over immigration-related issues and a political landscape gearing up for the European Parliament elections in June.
President Emmanuel Macron, facing challenges from the far right and lacking a majority in the National Assembly, had previously relied on support from right-wing Republicans and the far-right National Rally (RN) to pass the initial immigration law just five weeks ago.
Left-wing parties criticized Macron’s centrist Renaissance party for aligning with the far right, accusing them of betraying their convictions.
Some Renaissance MPs even refused to support the legislation. To secure the bill’s passage, the government accepted amendments that were subsequently invalidated by the Constitutional Council, leading to heightened tensions between political factions.
With the number of foreign offenders expelled from France rising by 10.7% in 2023 and asylum applications increasing by 8.6%, the government faces a delicate balancing act between addressing security concerns and respecting humanitarian considerations.
Notably, the far-right RN leader, Jordan Bardella, labelled the Constitutional Council’s decision as a “coup by the judges, with the backing of the president of the Republic himself.” Meanwhile, Eric Ciotti, leader of the Republicans, emphasized the urgency of constitutional reform to “safeguard France’s destiny.”
While the French right is calling for a second immigration bill, Minister Darmanin has made it clear that there are no intentions to present such legislation.
The conflicting opinions and political manoeuvring suggest a challenging road ahead for President Macron as he navigates the complex terrain of immigration policy amid heightened political tensions.
As details on enforcing the law are expected to be released on Friday, the repercussions of this controversial legislation will undoubtedly reverberate across French society, adding fuel to the ongoing debate surrounding immigration and its impact on the nation’s future.
This article was created using automation technology and was thoroughly edited and fact-checked by one of our editorial staff members