French Senate begins debate on Macron’s controversial immigration law

The thorny new immigration law promoted by Emmanuel Macron’s government will begin to be debated in the Senate on Monday.

The debate comes amid doubts that Macronism will obtain the necessary support to approve a project that is equally disliked by the right and the left.

The former criticizes the sections that allow the legalization of undocumented workers, while the latter sees the text as yet another repressive law.

The government presented the project as a reform that toughens measures against undocumented foreigners, especially those who commit crimes, making it easier to expel them, while at the same time saying the bill favors regularization and integration.

The traditional right, represented by the Republicans, which has been the most receptive partner of Macronism in recent times, considers Article 3, related to economic sectors suffering from labor shortages, a red line as it would generate a call effect.

In an attempt to bring the positions closer to the doors of the debate in the Senate, the French Minister of Employment, Olivier Dussopt, showed himself open to possible changes on Sunday.

“I have said from the beginning that I am very open to the form. I think that the residence permit with article 3 is a good method, but if another solution emerges from the parliamentary debate, why close it?” he said in statements to the public channel France 3.

However, the articles to be considered by the Senate have already been amended in committee by the right-wing majority to include the abolition of the State Medical Aid (AME), which has also sparked debate within the ranks of Macronism.

The AME covers medical and hospital expenses for undocumented migrants who have been in France for at least three months; if the law is passed, it would be replaced by a yet-to-be-defined mechanism that would only cover emergency care.

The parliamentary debate on the immigration project, the content of which was revealed by the government in February, has suffered numerous delays throughout the year.

First, it was postponed in the context of the controversial reform of the pension system, which marked the first half of 2023 by the serious riots that occurred in France.

Then, between June and July, it was delayed again after the death of a minor of Algerian descent, shot by the police during a roadblock on the outskirts of Paris that also sparked widespread protests.

The Senate will have to examine the text between November 6 and 14 , after which it will be sent to the National Assembly, where its first stop will be the Legal Commission – at the end of this month – before the final debate in the upper house in December.

The difficulty in securing the necessary parliamentary support has led the government to force the approval of several laws – including the crucial reform of the pension system – through a constitutional mechanism that allows it to bypass the vote of legislators. EFE

By Nadeem Faisal Baiga