Know France’s controversial immigration bill!

The French government is currently embroiled in a political crisis following the resignation offer of Health Minister Aurélien Rousseau in protest against a stringent immigration bill. Emmanuel Macron’s centrist party is experiencing internal divisions and self-reflection after the parliament approved the new immigration law, which, despite its initial intention to demonstrate Macron’s ability to take tough migration measures, has been hailed as an “ideological victory” for the far-right leader Marine Le Pen and her anti-immigration stance.

Rousseau promptly tendered his resignation in objection to the law, but Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne has not clarified whether it would be accepted. The fate of other ministers offering to resign remains uncertain. Originally conceived to showcase Macron’s firm stance on migration while keeping France receptive to foreign workers benefiting the economy, the bill took a more severe turn after opposition parties rejected its debate in parliament.

A compromise text, swiftly drafted by a special parliamentary committee, resulted in a right-wing bill proposed by the centrist government. This bill tightened rules for foreign students, reduced access to welfare benefits for foreigners, introduced migration quotas, made it harder for non-national children born in France to acquire French citizenship, and stipulated that dual nationals convicted of serious crimes against the police could lose French citizenship.

Within Macron’s centrist coalition, numerous MPs voted against or abstained from the bill, revealing profound divisions, particularly on the left. Le Pen welcomed the bill as an “ideological victory,” with her party voting in favor. Critics argued that the bill, which conditions some social security benefits on five years of residency in France, echoes the far-right’s concept of “national preference,” prioritizing benefits and housing for the French.

Opponents contended that the bill represents a significant setback for the rights and living conditions of foreigners in France. The government defended the legislation, asserting that it includes liberal measures, such as regularizing undocumented workers in sectors facing labor shortages. Borne insisted that the bill is “necessary” and “useful,” aligning with Republican values and reflecting the will of the French people.

Despite criticism and internal dissent, the bill passed with the support of Macron’s party and the right-wing Les Républicains. Le Pen’s far-right MPs also voted in favor, but their votes were not essential for the bill’s passage. Left-wing opposition figures expressed disappointment, emphasizing that Macron had, in implementing this bill, adopted far-right ideas contrary to the mandate he received in his re-election to keep out Marine Le Pen’s ideas.

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