Marchers Say Immigration Bill Contradicts French Values

Demonstrations across nation urge Macron to stop legislation
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 21, 2024 3:45 PM CST
Marchers: Deportation Bill Contradicts French Values
Opponents of France's immigration law carry models of migrants at Trocadero Plaza near the Eiffel Tower during a protest in Paris on Sunday.   (AP Photo/Thomas Padilla)

Tens of thousands of people marched in the streets of cities across France on Sunday to call on President Emmanuel Macron not to sign into law tough new legislation on immigration that they say bears the footprint of the far right and betrays French values. According to the Interior Ministry, 75,000 people took part across the country, with 16,000 protesters turning out in Paris, the AP reports. The hard-left CGT union put the number of protesters nationwide at 150,000. The timing of the protests was critical, coming four days before the Constitutional Council decides on Thursday whether all articles in the law—passed in December—conform with the French Constitution.

The bill strengthens the government's ability to deport foreigners considered undesirable and makes it tougher for foreigners to take advantage of social welfare, among other measures. The protest was called by 200 figures from various sectors, including the arts and the unions. The law "was written under the dictate of the merchants of hate who dream of imposing on France their project of 'national preference,'" the signatories of the call to march wrote. National preference—under which the French, not foreigners, should profit from the riches of the land—has long been the rallying cry of the far-right National Rally party.

Macron backed the law in its tortuous course through parliament, but, in an unusual twist, has said that some articles appear unconstitutional, per the AP. Le Monde newspaper recently quoted an unnamed Interior Ministry official as saying that "a good dozen" of articles could be struck down by the Constitutional Council. Some articles would make it more difficult to bring family members to France; for instance, an applicant trying to join their spouse will have to show knowledge of the French language. The court is also likely to scrutinize tougher standards for receiving social services and housing or reestablishing a law done away with in 2012 that makes it illegal for a foreigner to be in France without residence papers.

(More France stories.)

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