With its proposed immigration law introduced on Wednesday, the French government is looking for what it calls a balance between toughening its stance on removal orders for immigrants told to leave the territory, and broadening work opportunities for those legally allowed to be in France.
The proposed new law on asylum and immigration would introduce a series of measures that would streamline deportations of those who have been ordered to leave France.
This comes weeks after a 12-year-old girl was murdered in Paris by an Algerian woman who had been ordered to leave France a few months earlier because she had overstayed a student visa – a fact that has been used by the far-right to call for a crackdown on immigration.
Making sure people leave
France delivers about 120,000 removal orders, called OQTF, each year, but only deports 10 percent of them – a number that has been particularly criticised by the far-right.
Defending the government’s actions, in an interview with the French daily newspaper Le Monde, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said that half of the orders are appealed, which puts them on hold.
He said he would like the appeals process to be simplified and to make it go faster.
He added he wanted to end to protections for children who arrived in France before the age of 13, who currently cannot be deported.
Instead, he would like a judge to rule whether or not the person can stay.
“We will make life impossible for those who have received removal orders," Darmanin said on Twitter.
“For example, by making sure they will not receive social benefits or housing.”
To justify what appears to be a crackdown, Darmanin evoked crime and President Emmanuel Macron’s call to tighten the rules as he asserted last week that at least half of offenders in Paris are foreigners – a number that appears to also include legal immigrants.
“If I were to summarise, I would say that we must be mean to the bad guys and nice with the nice guys,” Darmanin told Le Monde, adding that multi-year residence permits for those who pose no problems will be automatically renewed.
Opening up work for immigrants
In the same Le Monde interview, the Labour Minister, Olivier Dussopt, said the new immigration bill includes measures to make it easier for immigrants to find work, to encourage assimilation in France through employment.
“Work must once again become a factor of integration and emancipation,” he said, pointing to the high number of unemployment among foreign workers – 13 percent, compared to the 7.5 percent national average.
One measure in the proposed legislation would be to allow asylum seekers to work right away, rather than wait six months after arriving in France.
Dussopt would also like the creation of a special work permit for sectors that are struggling to recruit.
“Professional organisations tell us they need us to make it easier to recruit foreigners,” he said.
The bill will be presented to the government in Wednesday’s ministerial council, before it is sent to the National Assembly for debate and a vote, to eventually become law by spring 2023.