MACRON BACKLASH: Anger grows at French president over migration law plans
The centrist promised shortly after his landslide election in May to speed up the asylum process, but later pledged to increase efforts to deport economic migrants.
Far-left MP Éric Coquerel, of the leading opposition party La France Insoumise (France Unbowed), told the French daily Le Figaro on Wednesday the asylum law reform did not address the root causes of forced migration.
Mr Coquerel said: “[Interior minister] Gérard Collomb says that the new policy is ‘balanced,’ when it is clearly not.
“People do not flee their country by choice.
“They do not risk their lives crossing the Mediterranean Sea for no reason.
“These people are fleeing famine and war.”
He added France was “in part” responsible for the refugee crisis.
He said: “France intervened military in Libya, and is now dealing with the consequences of this decision.
“The country is now teeming with people smugglers who are selling migrants as slaves.
“France also played a role, as did the United States, in the weakening of the Middle East.”
The hard-left lawmaker added France was and always had been a country of immigrants.
He said: “France needs immigration.
“We must face up to the fact that we have always been a country of immigrants.
“Repression is not the solution, and closing the country’s borders will not keep people out.
“Migrants should be welcomed with dignity and immediately.”
Clémentine Autain, a far-left MP who works alongside Mr Coquerel, told the news channel BFM TV the government was unfairly “selecting” migrants and “rejecting” those fleeing war-torn countries.
Under the government’s new immigration law, anyone not classified as a refugee in the strictest sense, namely economic migrants, will be forced out.
Aid charities have also expressed concern over the government’s tightening of immigration laws, namely a recent policy change by the interior ministry extending inspections of hotels and emergency shelters where thousands of paperless migrants seek refuge.
Pierre Henry, the head of the refugee charity France Terre d’Asile, told Europe 1 radio on Wednesday: “Mr Macron’s government has taken the wrong approach to immigration.
“Six months ago, Mr Macron promised to reduce the amount of time spent processing asylum requests, but now, he appears to want to send as many migrants as possible home.
“It’s all incredibly clumsy.”
The new law, he added, is both “expensive and punitive”.
The number of people filing asylum requests in France hit a record in 2017, topping 100,000.