French politicians want to get past the impasse over a controversial immigration law.


On Tuesday, French senators and members of parliament will resume debating an immigration measure, following negotiations that had endured throughout the night due to a last-minute impasse. The government of President Emmanuel Macron had hoped to salvage a flagship reform. French politicians want to get past the impasse over a controversial immigration law.

To strengthen France’s immigration law, the French government has been attempting to pass legislation to that effect. However, opposition members from the right and left combined forces last week to vote down the draft without debating the measures.

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To save the proposed legislation, the centrist administration, which lacks a majority in parliament, has been engaged in frantic negotiations with the opposition parties.

A senior member of Macron’s party informed AFP on Monday afternoon, under the condition of anonymity, that a consensus on the bill’s text was “virtually certain.”

On Monday at 5:00 pm local time (1600 GMT), a mixed parliamentary commission comprised of seven upper house senators and seven lower house lawmakers convened to reach a compromise text. However, within minutes of the meeting commencing, it was adjourned due to policy disagreements, specifically concerning the provision of social benefits.

Following a four-hour break, the session resumed until just after midnight, when the negotiations became entangled in a dispute concerning family provisions. 

Should a compromise be reached regarding the text, the measure may be submitted for a vote in both chambers on Tuesday.

The impasse has caused Macron great distress, and many consider him a possible lame duck if he cannot execute his reform agenda for the remainder of his tenure.

According to observers, Macron’s administration ran the risk of overtraining concessions to the far right, which maintains that the measure is insufficiently stringent to advance the reform.

“Migrant stigmatization” – Advocacy groups have criticized the measure, arguing that migrants, who power numerous French industries, should be subjected to more favorable conditions.

Over three hundred and thirty-eight local and national Green legislators urged members of parliament to abandon the measure in a letter published in the Liberation newspaper.

“This immigration bill is part of a dynamic of criminalization and stigmatization of migrants, promoted by the right and the center at the national and European level,” according to the letter.

Government ministers stated that a compromise was necessary to prevent the far right from securing victory.

Several measures advocated by the right have been incorporated by the commission debating the bill, including quotas on immigration mandated by parliament, penalties for illegal residence, and restrictions on undocumented migrants’ access to discounted transport fares. 

Additionally, the right advocates for more contentious limitations, such as requiring social benefits to be earned after five years of residency in the country or thirty months for those employed.

A “resistance” against a “denial of republican values” was chanted by several thousand protesters during a Monday march through France.

Gerald Darmanin, the interior minister, expressed optimism that it was still possible to reach a compromise with the conservative Republicans, whose cooperation is vital.

“A consensus is more attainable than discord,” Darmanin, an advocate for the legislation, stated Monday on the French news channel LCI. 

The bill’s defeat would provide the hard-right leader of the National Rally (RN), Marine Le Pen, with a “magnificent” boost. Darmanin further stated.

“Madame Le Pen doesn’t want these solutions; she wants problems,” he commented.

“Victory for the RN”

Minister of Solidarity Aurore Berge hinted that compromises may be necessary to resolve.

“If we don’t have a text voted through the National Assembly and the Senate, it will be a victory of just one camp, the National Rally,” according to her.

However, despite the parliamentary commission reaching a consensus on a compromise text, there remains to be assurance that it will not encounter further impediments in the National Assembly, the lower house. 

Over the weekend, a parliamentary source estimated that approximately 10 percent of the 251 deputies affiliated with the presidential camp might abstain or vote against the measure.

The draft law, initially put forth by Macron’s centrist government with a combination of measures aimed at increasing migrant integration and expelling undocumented individuals, was hardened in the upper chamber, an institution dominated by the right.

Despite this, the present iteration has faced criticism from both the far right and the far left, albeit for divergent rationales. 

Estimates place the number of immigrants in France at 5.1 million, or 7.6 percent of the total population. An estimated 600,000 to 700,000 undocumented immigrants reside in the country, according to authorities.