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Emmanuel Macron unveils controversial immigration crackdown in France

The bill would allow authorities to detain illegal migrants for 90 days, instead of 45 now

Wednesday 21 February 2018 17:57 GMT
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The French President during a press conference at the Elysee Palace on Wednesday
The French President during a press conference at the Elysee Palace on Wednesday (EPA)

Emmanuel Macron’s government is clamping down on illegal immigration with a new bill that accelerates the expulsion of people who do not qualify for asylum.

The plan will reduce France’s “consideration period” for an asylum application to a maximum of six months, down from about one year including appeal. It will also and make the illegal crossing of borders an offence punishable by one year in jail and fines.

The French President has been criticised by human rights organisations who have argued the policy represses asylum-seekers, as it will make it more difficult for them to defend their rights.

Interior minister Gerard Collomb said the plan is “balanced” and “aligned with European procedures”.

The bill, which is set to be debated in Parliament in April, would extend the length of time authorities are allowed to hold migrants with no legal right to remain from 45 to 90 days in order to organise their deportation.

The French Human Rights League has called for protests in Paris to denounce “governmental policies that infringe on migrants’ freedoms”.

Alain Esmery, an activist with the league, noted that Mr Macron had previously called for humanity and firmness toward migrants.

“The interior minister must be hard of hearing because he has heard ‘firmness, firmness’,” Mr Esmery said.

Cyrielle Taezin, an employee at the national court of asylum, said migrants would not have enough time to prepare their applications to remain.

“They have experienced trauma. They need psychological checks. They need time to express what they’ve gone through,” Ms Taezin said.

Official figures show more than 100,000 people applied for asylum in France last year, up 17 per cent from 2016.

The largest number of asylum requests came from people from Albania, Afghanistan, Haiti and Sudan.

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