France’s immigration bill


France is all set to vote on a controversial immigration and asylum bill at the end of the week. In fact, parliamentary debate is already underway in the country’s Lower house; a mere three days after Paris, along with London and Washington, conducted coordinated air strikes on Syria.
The bill is tabled by the Macron government. Its objective is to toughen immigration policies while accelerating asylum applications and expediting deportations. And while this sounds reasonable on paper — it has divided the president’s own party, La République En Marche (LREM). Indeed, more than 1,000 amendments have been proposed — with 200 alone coming from the latter.
In reality, the proposed legislation envisages reducing the timeframe for formally seeking asylum; from 120 to 90 days. Conversely, the period of legal detention of those who have been refused asylum will increase from 90 to 135 days while they await deportation. And those who have seen their asylum bids fail would only have a 15-day grace period to apply for another residence permit and lodge an appeal. If passed, detention-before-deportation will also extend to the children of failed asylum seekers.
The Elysée’s claims that the bill represents a responsible approach to curbing immigration does not wash. For this has long been a line peddled by Fortress Europe to keep out those who primarily come from the MENA region. Yet logic dictates that the best bet to halting influxes of refugees — because this is what the overwhelming majority are, not immigrants or migrants — would be to stop bombing their homelands.
For far too long have those who drive globalisation done so under the false banner of a borderless 21st century world. The reality, of course, is very different. And it is one which provides that multinational companies can relocate to wherever labour and social and environmental costs are the cheapest. But local residents have to stay put. Even when this means facing the bullets and bombs the world’s most sophisticated militaries.