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France toughens its immigration policy

Ⓒ AFP – Jacques Demarthon – | Sudanese refugees arrive at Roissy-Charles-de-Gaulle airport on 18 December 2017 near Paris

By hosting a first group of about 20 African refugees, selected in Chad, the French authorities want to show their new course in immigration: selective reception of refugees and “intractable” policy of expulsion for other migrants.

This hardening of the line has aroused the hostility of some NGOs and left-wing activists, the Defender of Rights warning against a risk of “sorting” in shelters where the government wants to conduct a census.

Djamel, a former 42-year-old Central African grocer, arrived in France Monday morning with his wife Korba and their four children. “I spent four in a camp” of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in N’Djamena, “there were 1,000 there,” he told AFP.

He is part of a group of nineteen people – mostly Sudanese – whom France went to look for in Chad. Others will follow through this new device that will accommodate 3,000 African refugees by 2019.

The idea is “to prevent people from putting themselves at risk by going to sea, especially from Libya”, pleaded the French authorities. But at the same time, they do not hide their desire to control migration flows very strictly.

“The French Republic was founded on a tradition of welcome and asylum, and I am deeply committed to that,” President Emmanuel Macron recently reaffirmed. But “I hope that (…) we indefatigably escort those who have no title” stay, he said.

Ⓒ AFP – Jacques Demarthon – | Sudanese refugees arrive at Roissy-Charles-de-Gaulle airport on 18 December 2017 near Paris

France registered 85,000 asylum applications last year, of which 36,000 were accepted. The removal of illegal aliens has increased by 14% over the first 11 months of the year, said Monday the Minister of the Interior Gérard Collomb.

Legislation is currently being drafted to meet the “requirement of firmness and efficiency,” Collomb recalled in a circular in late November, stating that “the fight against irregular immigration was a priority of government action “.

In a context of “unprecedented migration crisis” since 2014, “if we did not take a number of measures, we would be faced with an unbearable situation,” he said recently.

In a country where the extreme right-wing party National Front has multiplied the electoral successes, propelling its candidate Marine Le Pen in the second round of the presidential election, the centrist government obviously wants to give pledges to a often defiant public opinion vis-à-vis -vis immigration.

– Refusal to “sort” –

For the editorialist of the left-wing newspaper Libération, Alexandra Schwartzbrod, “the homeland of human rights is only thinking of closing its borders and expelling en masse”.

“The German elections have gone by, they have shown what it costs politicians to open the doors to the misery of the world.” Angela Merkel was very close to leave her seat as Chancellor, “she analyzes. .

Ⓒ AFP – Jacques Demarthon – | Sudanese refugees arrive at Roissy-Charles-de-Gaulle airport on 18 December 2017 near Paris

The first European economy had welcomed some 890,000 migrants in 2015, placing immigration at the forefront of the political debate and contributing to the rise of the far-right party AfD. This number fell to 280,000 in 2016.

The French government has decided to conduct a census in emergency shelters, to reorient the occupants according to their situation (refugees, rejected …), attracting the anger of industry associations who fear a massive dismissal of undocumented migrants.

They denounced on Monday a desire to “generalized control of foreigners” in order to “identify and conduct a review of their right to stay in France.” And called for the intervention of the Defender of Rights, Jacques Toubon.

“We have a difficult situation,” admitted the latter on France Inter, evoking a risk of “sorting” in shelters.

“We refuse to sort,” warned in recent days Florent Gueguen, director of the Federation of actors of solidarity. “If the centers become migrant traps, a number of associations will withdraw from the devices, and the migrants themselves will not go,” he predicted.

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