A 228-139 majority in France’s National Assembly has passed a controversial immigration bill hardening the country’s stance on asylum seekers. The bill would shorten deadlines for asylum applications, increase the current 45-day detention time for illegal immigrants to 90 days, and introduce a one-year jail sentence for persons illegally entering France (Reuters). In June, the French Senate will debate enacting the bill.
The 90-day detention term has been harshly criticized by opponents of President Emmanuel Macron’s governing centrist party. Critics say migrants held in detention centers are mistreated (The Guardian). According to the Global Detention Project, detention centers in France hold undocumented immigrants who are applying for asylum, awaiting the outcome of applications, or awaiting deportation.
During the 61-hour debate over the bill, Jean-Luc Mélenchon of the leftist Insoumise party expressed anger over the government’s refusal to stop detaining children in these centers, calling the practice “barbaric.” (The Guardian)
Since 2015, European countries have seen a growing number of asylum seekers, refugees, and economic migrants (Wikipedia). In 2017, more than 100,000 people requested asylum in France, making the country second only to Germany for number of asylum seekers (France 24).
Laws restricting immigration have been proposed or enacted across Europe in recent years. Last week, Austria’s government proposed tightening its immigration rules. The conservative and far-right coalition government is planning to put forward a bill that would complicate refugees’ ability to become citizens, seize asylum seekers’ money as payment for their care, and confiscate their mobile phones (Reuters). The proposal resembles measures in Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland. In 2016, all three countries passed laws allowing authorities to confiscate refugees’ valuables and money (The Independent).