The French government’s proposed legislation to reform immigration and asylum laws has begun its passage through parliament this week, to fierce attacks from opposition MPs of both the Left and the Right. The conservatives, whose policies under their new leader have veered towards the hard-right, claim the bill is little more than soft tinkering of current laws, while the Left denounce an unjustified clampdown on migrants’ rights, a view shared by some among President Macron’s ruling LREM party. Mathilde Mathieu was in parliament to witness the early exchanges of what promises to be a week of inflamed debate.
Prime minister Édouard Philippe has sought to clarify plans after aid and emergency agencies accused government of planning mass expulsions.
In the wake of footage of sub-Saharan migrants captured in Libya being sold as slaves, France has pledged to offer asylum to 25 Eritreans, Ethiopians and Sudanese, including 15 women and four children, who were taken to Niger under UN protection from detention in the North African country.
The teenagers, who were removed from the notorious 'jungle' camp in Calais and placed in a reception centre in south-west France, staged a protest at the refusal by British authorities to allow 39 of them to settle in the UK.
The usually tranquil village of Allex, in the Drôme Valley region of south-east France, has become agitated over the imminent opening of a reception centre for migrants. Villagers’ opposition to the centre, which will house about 50 individuals, has prompted the mayor to announce a referendum on the issue. Laurent Geslin reports from this small village of 2,500 inhabitants where, as France’s 2017 presidential election campaign draws closer, local conservative and far-right parties have jumped upon the opportunity to stoke the fires of prejudice and resentment.
Campaign in Béziers in southern France to allow Al Elfi family to stay succeeded after a decision to expel them was overturned.
Watchdog says France spends too much money on asylum seekers, too few failed applicants are being deported and the process is too long.
The French and German leaders, addressing the European Parliament, said current rules are obsolete and that a united EU stand must be adopted.
WikiLeaks editor said French president 'gave encouraging signs' over his request for asylum in July, and questioned why it was finally rejected.
In face of the massive arrivals of refugees in Europe, and notably the huge recent influx into Germany, France has agreed to accept an extra 24,000 asylum seekers over the next two years. The initial organisation of accommodating the refugees is to be mapped out at a meeting this weekend between the interior minister and French mayors who have volunteered to provide assistance. But, as Feriel Alouti and Michaël Hajdenberg report, the crisis highlights the already thoroughly inadequate previsions for asylum seekers, while tensions, fuelled by some mayors opposed to the scheme, are already brewing among some local populations.
The families were the first of up to 1,000 refugees from Syria and Iraq expected to be given asylum in France this week.
As the bloody civil war in their country continues, families fleeing Syria have set up a makeshift camp at Saint-Ouen in the north of Paris. Many of them feel trapped, unsure how to complete their arduous journey towards a safe haven, uncertain about whether to claim asylum in France or move on to another European country. The authorities, meanwhile, do the bare minimum to help this small group of Syrians, apparently hoping that they will simply move on elsewhere. Mediapart's Carine Fouteau went to meet the inhabitants of this mini-camp who are living next to the French capital's main ring road.
In an open letter to the French president on Friday the founder of WikiLeaks, Julain Assange, made an apparent appeal for political asylum in France. Assange, whose whistleblowing organisation was behind the recent revelations published by Mediapart and Libération about US spying on French heads of state, said that he faced “political persecution” and that his life was “in danger”. However, within an hour of the publication of the open letter President Hollande's office issued a brusque statement rejecting asylum for Assange, who has spent three years in the Ecuadorian embassy in London to escape extradition to Sweden. As Lénaïg Bredoux, Jérôme Hourdeaux and Mathieu Magnaudeix report, the episode quickly stirred up a row and will inevitably reignite the debate about how far France should be prepared to go in welcoming whistleblowers such as Assange and the former National Security Agency (NSA) employee Edward Snowden.