PARIS: France’s National Assembly has adopted a controversial immigration bill that speeds up the asylum process and accelerates deportations after a fierce debate that exposed divisions in President Emmanuel Macron’s party, reports AFP.
After 61 hours of discussion, the legislation, which was slammed by the left as too tough and the right as too soft, was approved late Sunday by 228 votes in favour to 139 against.
Fourteen members of Macron’s centrist Republic on the Move (LREM) party were among the 24 MPs who abstained, and one dissident quit the LREM parliamentary group after joining the naysayers—a rare display of defiance in the usually on-message movement.
Jean-Michel Clement, a former member of the Socialist Party who joined Macron’s party last year, said he had voted with his “conscience”.
Opposition was strongest on the right, with the conservative Republicans and far-right National Front (FN) leading a failed charge for much tougher controls on immigration.
FN leader Marine Le Pen, who won 36 percent of the vote in last year’s presidential election run-off, said the law would lead to a “flood of migration”.
But NGOs were also up in arms.
Within minutes of the vote Amnesty International France issued a statement warning that the “dangerous” legislation, which allows for failed asylum-seekers to be detained for up to 90 days, jeopardised migrants’ rights.
The French migrant-support charity Cimade was also sharply critical of the draft law.
“So men, women and children can be locked up for three months without committing an offence. No government has ever gone so far on locking up foreigners,” it tweeted.
But opinion polls show voters supporting stricter rules, which the government presented as necessary to check the rise of populists who are on the march across Europe.
On Saturday, far-right activists from various European countries blocked a key mountain pass on the border with Italy to try prevent migrants—mostly young men from west Africa—crossing..