Copé Proposes Revision of Immigration Policy

Jean-François Copé proposed a reform of immigration policy. Photo: Wikimedia/MEDEF

Jean-François Copé proposed a reform of immigration policy.
Photo: Wikimedia/MEDEF

The Leonarda affair, the deportation of a fifteen-year-old Romani girl to Kosovo because her family was living illegally in France for nearly five years, has sparked a debate and call for revision of France’s immigration policy, specifically concerning the acquiring of citizenship by children of foreign-born parents.

France’s current policy of droit du sol, or jus soli, grants citizenship to these children at the age of eighteen automatically, or through an application process for which they are eligible at thirteen. Children are only eligible if they have lived in the country for a minimum period of five years.

President of the Union pour un mouvement populaire (UMP), Jean-François Copé, presented on Tuesday, October 22 a bill that would alter the process of acquiring citizenship, making it more difficult for children born in France by foreigners. The center-right party’s political committee, consisting of more than 30 members, unanimously adopted the plan for a new immigration policy.

Copé did not specify exactly which conditions he would like to add. However, he did explain that the new model consists of 4 pillars. First, a reorganization of the Schengen zone to exclude countries not controlling their borders would end France’s “empty chair policy”. Secondly, he called for a fight against illegal immigration. Copé also claimed that France must cease to be the most socially attractive country in Europe for immigrants by suppressing various benefits, including Aide médicale d’Etat (AME), and by changing the eligibility requirements for universal health care coverage (CMU) and the Revenue de solidarité active (RSA). Finally, the president emphasized the importance of assimilation by immigrants already in France and the defense of laïcitié.

The proposed policy will be the topic of the party’s convention from now until the end of the year, followed by an official bill. Given that the UMP no longer holds the majority in Parliament, the bill has little chance of being adopted, though it is true that leftist organizations support a fight against illegal immigration.

Interestingly, the majority (72%) of the French population supports a reform of jus soli, specifically putting an end to automatic acquisition of nationality according to a BVA survey of 1,050 people, published Saturday by Le Parisien/Aujourd’hui en France. The survey also showed that 90% of right-leaning and 46% of left-leaning French citizens support the reform.

Despite majority support, many see the reform as an electoral maneuver on the part of Copé.

Leftist leaders believe the UMP’s push for a new immigration policy resembles what would normally come from the Front National (FN).

Bruno Le Roux, leader of the Parti Socialiste (PS) deputies, says, “the UMP is in a completely crazy spiral, wanting to spark these debates that only benefit the Front National.”

Deputies Yann Galut and Alexis Bachelay claim that Copé is following the line of the FN, of whose one leading policy historically included the abolition of jus soli and an end to dual nationality. The abolition of jus soli appeared in the Marine Le Pen’s program during the 2012 election season. Galut and Bachelay also point out that the UMP was in power from 2002 to 2012 and nothing was done to reform or revoke jus soli.

Another part of France’s immigration policy – the right to asylum – could also be changed in the near future. On July 15, Minister of the Interior Manuel Valls asked two different parliamentarians to draft a new policy changing the process of applying for droit d’asile, or right to asylum.

The goal is to reduce the waiting period – approximately eighteen months, on average – to nine months. Not only will this help asylum-seekers, but it will also reduce the time spent on French soil for those who are refused. In France at this time, there are currently fifty thousand asylum-seekers, of which one in four will not be granted asylum.

Under French law, those seeking asylum cannot be expelled during the examination of their dossier, which goes through several phases. For example, if they are denied, they are allowed to appeal to the Cour nationale du droit d’asile, or the National Court of the Right to Asylum (CNDA).

Senator Valérie Létard and Deputy Jean-Louis Touraine will be drafting the bill for a new law, which should be addressed in 2014. A finalized proposal is likely to be presented in a short time. According to the Huffington Post, it could be announced within the next few days.

Trackbacks

  1. […] The Leonarda affair, the deportation of a 15-year-old Romani girl to Kosovo because her family was living illegally in France for nearly five years, has sparked debate and calls for revision of France’s immigration policy, specifically concerning the acquiring of citizenship by children of foreign-born parents. France’s current policy of droit du sol, or jus soli… […]

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