People holding a banner that reads 'No to Darmanin's Law', gather at a rally against the government's new immigration law, at Place du Louvre in Paris, France, 25 January 2024. EPA-EFE/Mohammed Badra


French judges slash new immigration-law measures


France’s Constitutional Council has removed more than a third of the measures in the country’s new tougher immigration law.

Clauses removed included restrictions to citizenship for immigrants’ children born in France and on access to welfare, the council ruled on January 25.

After more than a month of consideration, the judges ruled that 37 articles were to be struck down because there was “no sufficient connection with the text”. The law had originally contained 86 articles in total.

The implementation of migration quotas set by the Parliament and the restricting of access to social assistance for foreigners were deleted along with policies that limited family reunification. They included the requirement to understand French and various others that would limit the right to own land.

The “return deposit” for international students, where foreign students would have had to deposit money into a locked bank account to cover possible “removal costs”, has also been dumped. The proposed increase in tuition fees and the control of the “real and serious nature” of foreigners’ studies have also gone.

Restrictions on the “right of the soil”, including a clause requiring young people born to foreign parents to declare their “intention to become French citizens between the ages of 16 and 18”, have also been cut away.

Regarding the changes demanded to the legislation – the law was green-flagged by the French Parliament on December 19 – politicians on the Right were not pleased, while those on the Left welcomed the ruling.

The leader of the centre-Right Les Républicains (LR), Éric Ciotti, whose party pushed for most of the legislation, spoke of “a democratic hold-up”, which “deprives the French people of their sovereignty”.

Jordan Bardella, President of the National Rally (RN), spoke of a “coup” instigated by the judges.

“With the support of the President of the Republic himself, the Constitutional Council struck down the firm measures most approved by the French: the immigration law is stillborn,” he said.

Marine Le Pen said: “Only a reform of the Constitution will make it possible to respond to the migratory issues that hit our country hard.”

Ciotti also accused Constitutional Council President Laurent Fabius of “collusion” with French President Emmanuel Macron to “obstruct the will of the French people who want less immigration”, something he deemed “scandalous”.

Fabius said on France inter the council’s decision was purely legal and not political.

Right-wing politician Eric Zemmour, who voted against the law in December, deeming it “too soft”, said Fabius was a Socialist and acted accordingly.

“Today, the Socialists obtained 1.75 per cent in the last presidential election, yet they still govern the main institutions of the Republic.

“The French people must regain power over this government of judges,” Zemmour stated.

On the Left, reactions were positive but demands to get rid of the law altogether are growing louder.

Manuel Bompard of the hard-left La France Insoumise, said: “It points out that the worst racist ravings of [French President Emmanuel] Macron and [National Rally MP Marine] LePen are contrary to our republican principles.

“The law has been totally amputated. It has no legitimacy. It must be withdrawn.”

Cyrielle Chatelain, leader of the Greens in Parliament, expressed relief that almost 110,000 people who could have lost “precious aid” could now continue to receive taxpayer money.

The Greens stated that the law was “shameful” and that a “humanitarian approach” should inspire France’s politics.

Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin welcomed the ruling, saying it validated the Government’s initial proposals prior to amendments and additions.

“Never has a bill included more measures to expel delinquents or introduced stricter requirements for the integration of foreigners,” Darmanin added.

Of the measures annulled, 32 were purely on procedural grounds. The council did not say whether the content of those clauses breached the Constitution, which meant, Reuters reported, they could be introduced in a future bill.