The French Senate has approved a bill aimed at regulating immigration, adopting measures that stiffen the provisions and legislative language of the original text, likely to complicate the search for consensus in the National Assembly (lower house). Initially proposed by the government of President Emmanuel Macron, it combines measures to deport undocumented people and improve the integration of migrants living in the country. The text, which was approved by 210 votes in favor and 115 against, underwent major changes in the Senate, which is controlled by the right.
Bruno Retailleau, leader of the right-wing Republicans in the upper house, said that “the Senate restored the coherence of the bill by strengthening it.” One of the most controversial points of the initial project was the government’s proposal to grant a general right to undocumented immigrants working in sectors with a shortage of labor to regularize their status in immigration to France. However, right-wing senators insist that these decisions should be unique and considered on a case-by-case basis.
The version of the bill passed by the Senate further tightens restrictions on the ability of immigrants to reunite with their families in France, limits citizenship to birthright, and reduces social benefits. In addition, it introduces an annual quota for the number of immigrants arriving in the country, to be determined by the legislators, and eliminates medical coverage for them, except in cases of emergency.
The changes introduced have the support of the Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin. According to him, they should have allowed the expulsion of a young Russian who recently stabbed a teacher in the city of Arras. However, the final approval is not guaranteed by the National Assembly because, in this case, no party has a majority. There is still the possibility that the government could use an unpopular constitutional mechanism to force the law through a vote of confidence.