French legislators pass controversial immigration bill aiming to strengthen deportation measures

French legislators pass controversial immigration bill aiming to strengthen deportation measures


  • The French parliament has approved a divisive immigration bill aimed at enhancing the country’s ability to deport undesirable foreigners.
  • The bill passed the National Assembly with a 349-186 vote, following a previous approval by the Senate.
  • Advocacy groups denounced the bill, viewing it as a threat to migrant rights.

The French parliament approved a divisive immigration bill intended to strengthen France’s ability to deport foreigners considered undesirable, prompting a heated debate after the far-right decided to back the measure.

The bill passed the lower house of parliament, the National Assembly, with a 349-186 vote late Tuesday. It had previously been voted by the Senate.

Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said the text of the bill includes “useful, efficient provisions that were expected by our citizens.”

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Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin, who championed the bill, said the government wants “greater firmness against foreign offenders.”

French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin delivers a speech at the French National Assembly in Paris, on Dec. 11, 2023. A divisive migration bill that would speed up deportations reaches the lower house of French parliament. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

“Who here can say that we must allow criminals, people on our land, who attacks us, attack our professors and who attack our police forces and who attack the youth on the cafe terraces, without reacting?” he said in a speech at the National Assembly.

The bill still needs to be officially enacted into law.

The vote comes after parliament members from French President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist majority and the conservative party The Republicans found a compromise to allow the text to make its way through the complex legislative process.

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Macron’s government doesn’t have a majority in parliament.

The conservatives, who pushed for a hard-line approach, said the compromise text features provisions to reduce the number of migrants coming to France, notably by limiting foreigners’ access to social benefits.

Many saw the negotiations as a sign of a shift to the right by Macron’s government.

Health Minister Aurélien Rousseau, who previously worked for the Socialist government before rejoining Macron’s camp, resigned Wednesday to show his opposition to the immigration bill. He will be replaced on a temporary basis by a junior minister, the government spokesperson said.

Leftist politicians accused the centrists of pushing the law through with the support of the far-right.

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Marine Le Pen, the leader of the far-right National Rally group at the National Assembly, described the legislation as an “ideological victory” for her party.

In response to criticism, Borne said there was enough votes from Macron’s centrist allies and from the conservatives for the bill to be approved without the backing of the National Rally.

Advocacy organizations have criticized the bill as a threat to the rights of migrants.

The debate in France comes as European Union leaders and top officials hailed on Wednesday a major breakthrough in talks on new rules to control migration. Critics said the reforms will weaken the rights of asylum-seekers and encourage more morally dubious deals with countries that people leave to get to Europe.



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