French legislators have given their final nod to a contentious immigration bill, marking a significant policy shift that tightens regulations for foreign students and workers seeking entry into the country.
The legislation, which resulted from a compromise between French President Emmanuel Macron’s party and the conservative opposition, reflects a broader trend in Europe— a rightward turn responding to the increasing influence of far-right politics. The approved bill introduces more stringent rules for immigrants, altering eligibility criteria for state subsidies such as housing aid and family allowances.
Under the newly endorsed law, immigrants will now be eligible for state support only after residing in France for an extended period, ranging from several months to years. Additionally, the legislation introduces obstacles for immigrants seeking to reunite with their families in the country and enforces new visa fees for foreign students.
Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin, expressing the necessity for stringent measures, stated after the lower house vote, “It’s not by holding your nose in central Paris that you can fix the problems of the French in the rest of the country.”
Initially designed as a balanced approach to streamline residency permits for migrants in labor-deficient sectors and facilitate the expulsion of illegal migrants, the bill underwent alterations to secure right-wing support. Consequently, measures related to residency permits were diluted, and access to welfare benefits, including those for children and housing allowances, was postponed by several years.
The compromise also introduces migration quotas, imposes stricter conditions for immigrants’ children to acquire French citizenship, and specifies that dual nationals convicted of serious crimes against the police could face the revocation of French citizenship.
This legislative development highlights the intricate challenges faced by Macron’s government in attempting to address concerns from both ends of the political spectrum. While achieving success on the immigration front, the concessions made underscore the difficulties of navigating the diverse political landscape in contemporary France.