In the midst of strong protests over the unpopular pension reform, the French government opens another controversial front: that of immigration. The Council of Ministers has approved this Wednesday the Immigration Law, a project that seeks to “control immigration to promote integration”, according to the Government’s claim. It is a norm that gives one of lime and one of sand, since it expedites the expulsions of the undocumented, but on the other hand it favors “economic immigration”: it facilitates the conditions for the irregulars who carry out jobs where there is a lack of labor.

The norm revives the worst fears of the ultra-far right, whose anti-immigration discourse is linked to crime and who fears that France will begin to massively regularize foreigners. Nor does it satisfy the associations and other sectors of the left, who see it as too harsh.

France today has some 65,000 asylum requests. These increased by 31% in the last year and 320,000 residence permits were granted, 17% more than in 2021. Some 15,000 foreigners were expelled. In total there are 3.8 million foreigners with a residence permit.

“It is not a question of being against or in favor of immigration, but of controlling it. We want an immigration chosen,” said the Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin, during a press conference after the council of ministers.

The project contains 27 measures and one of the most important is the granting of a one-year residence permit for all non-EU foreigners who are employed in one of the so-called “live jobs”, sectors where there is a lack of labor such as construction or restoration.

“It is something that the heads of the companies in these sectors themselves ask of us,” explained the head of the Interior. The Labor Minister, Olivier Dussopt, explained that in some of these areas there is a rate of 20-25% of non-EU workers, without whom “it would not work”.

This is also a “dissuasive measure” to prevent the employment of illegal workers, as has been reported to be happening in the works for the 2024 Olympic Games.

They will also be more lax with the requirements demanded in qualified fields, where there is a lack of professionals, such as doctors or pharmacists. 20% of the professionals who were in charge during the pandemic were of foreign origin, according to Darmanin. The criteria for obtaining the so-called “talent passport” will be simplified.

The norm simplifies the procedures for asylum seekers: of the 12 that now have to go through will be reduced to four. In addition, the expulsions of illegal immigrants will be accelerated, especially those who have committed a crime. These people will not be able to benefit from the existing protection measures to avoid their expulsion.

As Darmanin has summed up, “it’s all about being bad to the bad guys.” The minister recalled that of all the expulsion orders that are issued, only 10% are executed. People traffickers who facilitate the arrival of irregulars in French territory will be prosecuted and those who exploit them will be penalized, asking abusive prices for a home.

The Government’s objective with this law is to promote economic immigration, for work reasons, “not family reunification.” In order to favor the integration of those who remain, they will be required to “accept the values ​​of the Republic.” Specifically, they will have to sign a declaration in which they accept the values ​​of religious freedom, equality between men and women and sexual freedom.

Those who obtain a permit for long stays will have to pass a French language test, “to demonstrate a minimum”, something that was only required to obtain French nationality. It is not a matter, as the minister has said, “of regularizing people who have been here six months, but rather those who have been here for many years, have found a profession and pay their taxes.” “We had to choose between regular and irregular immigration and we have chosen the former,” said Darmanin.

As is the case with the pension reform, the Government does not have much support in the Assembly to process this text. It is opposed by the left and the extreme right and only has the support of Los Republicanos, who once again have the key to approval. These request, for example, the fixing of quotas for new residence permits.

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