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French bans Nigerian students, others from bringing families

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The French parliament has approved a contentious immigration law that imposes restrictions on Nigerian students and other migrants 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 redrafted with stricter provisions.

Under the new immigration policy, migrants will encounter increased challenges in bringing family members to France, and access to welfare benefits will be delayed. 

The law also prohibits the detention of minors in detention centers, although some regional leaders have expressed their non-compliance with specific measures.

A divisive aspect of the law introduces discriminatory criteria between citizens and migrants, including those residing legally in the country, when determining eligibility for benefits. Right-wing parties welcomed the tougher version, with Marine Le Pen hailing it as an “ideological victory” for the far-right. Eric Ciotti, leader of the right-wing Republican party, praised the bill as “firm and courageous.”

However, left-wing critics accused President Macron of aligning with the far-right, with Socialist party leader Olivier Faure stating, “History will remember those who betrayed their convictions.” Some members of Macron’s party expressed discomfort with certain measures, and Health Minister Aurélien Rousseau resigned in protest.

The legislation exposed divisions within the governing alliance, as 27 MPs voted against it, and 32 abstained, representing nearly a quarter of pro-Macron MPs. Despite the controversy, the government argued that its majority did not depend on National Rally votes

The new law in France coincided with an EU agreement to reform the asylum system across the bloc’s 27 member states. The pact includes the creation of border detention centers and facilitates the quicker deportation of rejected asylum seekers. While hailed as a landmark agreement, it still requires formal approval by the Parliament and member states.

Prime Minister Jean Castex acknowledged that some measures in the law might face constitutional challenges and stated that they would seek the opinion of the Constitutional Council, the top court responsible for upholding constitutional principles.

“We will ask the Constitutional Council,” she told French radio, referring to a top court that upholds the constitution’s principles.

 

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