France’s lawmakers have adopted an immigration bill that may have a devastating impact on the rights of asylum seekers and migrants in France. Under pressure from the right and the far right, the government made an already flawed bill even worse in a bid to get the votes needed to pass the legislation.
The bill, initially introduced in February, includes numerous regressive provisions across a range of issues. Human Rights Watch has previously criticized some key provisions of the legislation:
- The removal of important safeguards for foreign nationals ordered to leave France and those being forcibly removed;
- The weakening of appeal rights for asylum seekers and due process rights related to migrants;
- The withdrawal or refusal to renew residence permits for people who are believed not to comply with “the principles of the Republic,” a measure that appears to target Muslims deemed to engage in “separatism.”
The French Defender of Rights, an independent rights institution which has heavily criticized the entire bill, noted that the version adopted by Parliament “strikes at the very heart of the principles of our Republic”.
The bill has been met by a chorus of criticism from dozens of nongovernmental organizations, labeling it as the most regressive in decades.
By aligning with the far right, the French government is putting the rights of foreigners at risk. In 2022, Emmanuel Macron promised to block the far right’s growing popularity. But now Marine Le Pen and her far right National Rally (Rassemblement National, RN) party are rejoicing in what she is calling an “ideological victory.”
Claiming to fight the xenophobic far right by adopting part of its program is not the right solution. On the contrary, this bill not only makes it more difficult for asylum seekers to find safety in France, but it also normalizes the ideas of the far right, betrays the fundamental principles of human rights, and tarnishes France’s democratic self-image.