On 22 April 2018, the French National Assembly passed what has been deemed a controversial immigration bill, shortening the deadlines for asylum applications, and doubling the time for which illegal migrants can be detained. In addition, the bill has introduced a one-year prison sentence for entering France illegally.
President Emmanuel Macron’s governing centrist party says the bill will speed up the process of claiming asylum, however, both the opposition and human rights groups say the measures that may be implemented (should this bill pass through the Senate) will go too far.
The main aim of the law is to cut the time asylum applications take to be considered and to make the deportation system more efficient for those who are refused. The French government has maintained the position that those refugees who are granted asylum will be given greater help with their integration into French society and their learning of the language, as new systems will be put in place to make integration more effective and efficient.
One of the most significant changes in the controversial bill is that failed asylum seekers awaiting deportation can be held in detention for up to 90 days, double the existing period of 45 days. The government had initially aimed to establish a 135-day detention period, although this proposal was withdrawn during the periods of intense debate which accompanied the bill’s formation.
The bill states that children can also be kept in detention with their families, although officials agreed to set up a working group to look into this particular issue. In 2017, 275 minors were being held in administrative detention centres.
The deadlines for filing asylum applications or appealing against a refusal have also raised concerns. Claimants will now only have 90 days to file an application, down from the current period of 120 days, and two weeks to lodge an appeal against a refusal.
The main concern of those opposed to this bill is that it appears to treat migrants as criminals. Human Rights Watch have backed this opposition, stating that shortening asylum application deadlines could negatively impact the "most vulnerable asylum seekers, who would be the ones most likely to miss the deadline".
The bill faced hundreds of amendments after more than 60 hours of debate over the Assembly’s weekend sitting, and subsequently was passed by 228 votes to 139, with 24 abstentions.
The bill is now scheduled to go to the Senate for debate in June.
Gherson has over 30 years of experience in assisting with various immigration matters. If you need assistance or wish to receive some more information regarding your immigration matters, please contact us.
The information in this blog is for general information purposes only and does not purport to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the information and law is current as of the date of publication it should be stressed that, due to the passage of time, this does not necessarily reflect the present legal position. Gherson accepts no responsibility for loss which may arise from accessing or reliance on information contained in this blog. For formal advice on the current law please don’t hesitate to contact Gherson. Legal advice is only provided pursuant to a written agreement, identified as such, and signed by the client and by or on behalf of Gherson.