On Monday, December 11th, in a surprising turn of events, the French Parliament voted against President Emmanuel Macron’s flagship immigration bill. This unexpected rejection represents a significant setback for Macron’s government, highlighting the complexities of immigration reform in France.
The bill, aimed at controlling immigration while improving migrant integration, faced opposition from both ends of the political spectrum. The left criticized the bill as overly repressive, while the right deemed it insufficiently stringent. Key measures included making it easier to expel migrants convicted of serious crimes and tightening rules for family reunification.
Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin, a staunch supporter of the bill, faced a major blow when opposition MPs, including those from the far-right National Rally and the far-left France Unbowed, united to reject the legislation. This coalition, along with moderate right and left parties, voted down the bill, reflecting a rare consensus across the political divide.
The bill’s rejection means the interruption of the examination of approximately 2,600 proposed amendments. It could now be sent back to the Senate, withdrawn, or the government might attempt to force it through using constitutional tools.
This development is particularly notable given Macron’s loss of a parliamentary majority in June 2022, which has led to frequent challenges in passing legislation. The rejection also prompted Darmanin to offer his resignation, which Macron refused, instead instructing him to find new ways to advance the legislation.
The bill’s failure to pass is seen as a reflection of the deep divisions within French society over immigration. It proposed a mix of enforcement measures and integration steps, including mandatory language tests for long-term residency applicants and easier expulsion of those not adhering to the republic’s values.
The rejection of the bill, described by some as a “bill of shame,” has sparked debates about France’s approach to immigration and asylum. Macron, emphasizing the importance of asylum rights, faces the challenge of balancing enforcement with France’s tradition of providing refuge.
As the French government grapples with these issues, the future of immigration reform in France remains uncertain.