By John Ikani
The French Parliament has approved a law restricting Nigerian students and others from bringing their families to the country.
The legislation, supported by President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist Renaissance party and Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Rally, faced initial rejection but was revised with tougher provisions.
The enhanced immigration policy complicates family reunification for migrants, affecting their access to welfare benefits and preventing the detention of minors in facilities.
Some regional leaders expressed non-compliance with certain aspects, and a divisive clause in the law distinguishes between citizens and migrants for benefit eligibility, drawing support from right-wing parties.
The amended bill received praise from Marine Le Pen, hailing it as an “ideological victory” for the far-right.
Eric Ciotti, leader of the right-wing Republican party, lauded the legislation as “firm and courageous.”
However, left-wing critics accused Macron of empowering the far-right, with Socialist party leader Olivier Faure lamenting those who “betrayed their convictions.”
Notably, 32 out of France’s 101 departments, including Paris, declared their refusal to implement certain benefit provisions for non-citizens, underscoring regional dissent.
The French vote coincided with an EU agreement to reform the asylum system across its 27 member states.
The pact, celebrated by Parliament President Roberta Metsola, includes measures like establishing border detention centers and expediting the deportation of rejected asylum seekers.
While requiring formal approval from both the Parliament and member states, the agreement seeks to relocate asylum seekers from high-arrival southern states to other nations within the bloc.
The approval of the new French legislation exposed fractures within the governing alliance. A notable quarter of pro-Macron MPs demonstrated dissent, with 27 voting against and 32 abstaining.
Health Minister Aurélien Rousseau resigned in protest, citing discomfort with certain bill provisions.
Yaël Braun-Pivet, president of the lower house of parliament and a Macron party member, acknowledged constitutional concerns and pledged to consult the Constitutional Council, a top court overseeing adherence to constitutional principles.
The prime minister, addressing the vote outcome, conceded the need for constitutional scrutiny, emphasizing a commitment to legal principles.
“We will ask the Constitutional Council,” she told French radio, referring to a top court that upholds the constitution’s principles.