(LibertySociety.com) – Legislators in France have passed a contentious immigration plan that will make it easier to remove foreign nationals deemed undesirable. This law, a middle ground between conservatives and Macron’s party, shows how European governments are moving to the right politically, particularly on immigration, to combat the extreme right’s ascent.
The National Assembly, the lower house of parliament, approved the law by a vote of 349 to 186 late Tuesday.
The French government had initially planned for this law to be a “carrot and stick” system, making deporting illegal immigrants more straightforward while streamlining the residence application process for migrants working in areas with a labor shortage. Nevertheless, to win over conservatives, the government compromised by easing restrictions on residence permits and putting a multiple-year hold on migrants’ access to social benefits, such as child payments and housing allowances.
Foreign nationals are also eligible for benefits from France’s famously generous welfare system, which has long been a point of national pride. These payments, subject to means testing, may amount to several hundred euros per month and assist with rent or child care. Some on the conservative and extreme right have said that only French citizens should be able to benefit. As part of Tuesday’s agreement, non-EU migrants who are jobless would have to wait five years before they can apply for housing aid. Additionally, the agreement states that dual nationals convicted of significant offenses against the police may lose their French citizenship, institute migration quotas, and make it more difficult for the children of immigrants to become French.
At first, the agreement seemed like excellent news for Macron, as he had staked his second term on passing the migration law and would have had to abandon it without it. Far-right party leader Marine Le Pen hailed the revised measure as “a major ideological success” only six months before the European Parliament elections, which will center on immigration. This development might potentially benefit Le Pen’s party.
The law has drawn criticism from advocacy groups that see it as an infringement on migrant rights.
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