The protest against immigration reform in France, according to some estimates, gathered from 75,000 to even 150,000 people across the country. The new law, if it comes into force, will hit immigrants. It will make it easier to deport them and make it more difficult for them to use the social welfare system.
During the weekend, those who have been French for generations, but also those who have recently called France their home, took to the streets of Paris, but also other French cities.
– We have come to defend the principles that in this country are written in golden letters on state buildings. We defend freedom, equality and fraternity. We oppose racism, xenophobia and callousness, said Manon Aubry, MEP. – I work, but I don’t have any insurance. My employer does not pay any contributions. It’s a terrible situation because even though they treat us badly at work and force us to work overtime, we don’t react. We don’t want to lose our job. If you complain, they throw you out. More are waiting to take your place, emphasized Talibe Drame, an immigrant from Mali who works as a construction worker.
People are protesting because in just a few days the Constitutional Court will decide whether a new, much more restrictive anti-immigration law will come into force in France. It was adopted in mid-December last year. It provides, among other things, for simplifying deportation procedures and granting the right of residence primarily to representatives of the most sought-after professions – for example, medicine. In addition, immigrants will only have access to social assistance, benefits, housing and health care after five years of residence in France.
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Procedures related to granting citizenship have also been made more difficult – for example, better knowledge of the language will be required. – I protest because I think this law is terrifying. I feel extremely angry and disappointed with the government’s actions. Everyone has the right to come to France. It shouldn’t be such a complicated procedure, says Mirabelle Cayla, a student.
Marine Le Pen triumphs
The law was passed with the votes of the president’s party, conservatives and National Rally, i.e. Marine Le Pen’s former National Front. In France, the drastic tightening of immigrants’ rights is widely perceived as an attempt to appeal to the most right-wing, nationalist voters.
– These difficult times we live in require, above all, courage, action and effectiveness. In the months and years to come, the fate of future generations will be decided. The stakes are the highest possible. That’s why we unite around a common goal to work for the French. For France to remain France – emphasized Emmanuel Macron, President of France.
During the press conference, Macron used the election slogan of the populist far right. It is therefore not surprising that when the bill passed through parliament, Marine Le Pen triumphed. “Today we can celebrate a real, ideological victory of the National Unity. The law enshrines national preference, which gives French citizens an advantage over foreigners,” she wrote on social media in December.
There are voices that the new law – passed together with Marine Le Pen’s MPs – will not only fail to increase support for Emmanuel Macron, but will even discourage current, centrist voters from supporting him.
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Main photo source: PAP/EPA/YOAN VALAT