France wants to crack down on immigration

France's government plans to realign its migration policy. The envisaged measures include immigration quotas for skilled workers and tougher policies for asylum seekers regarding deportation and access to health care. Most commentators take a dim view of the measures, although some praise it.

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La Croix (FR) /

Quotas are the way forward

A quota system is the right solution, La Croix believes:

“The biggest immigration challenge facing all the countries of Europe is to find a fair way to organise it. Not introducing regulations means being condemned to passively accept events as they unfold. Countries that want to accept economic immigrants in a well thought-out manner will have a hard time doing so without assessing - that is quantifying - their needs. In particular, well-organised economic immigration can counteract the labour shortage, which is set to worsen. ... In the long term Europe's demographic transformation will certainly make it increasingly necessary to take in foreign workers.”

El Periódico de Catalunya (ES) /

Macron is bolstering the far right

El Periódico de Catalunya, by contrast, criticises the government's plans:

“The official explanation for the move is the fight against fraud, but the real objective here is the competition for votes with Marine Le Pen's far-right party and above all the 2022 presidential election. ... France has amended its immigration law a hundred times since 1945. Macron is right when he says that 'the left has ignored the problem for decades and the lower classes affected by it have migrated to the far right'. But imposing restrictions very similar to those of Le Pen also bolsters right-wing extremism.”

Libération (FR) /

Innocent people being punished

One aspect of the immigration package is particularly appalling, Libération writes:

“This is clearly a crackdown, symbolised by a frankly shocking rule: asylum seekers must now wait three months before they have access to healthcare. One can understand that it's important to avoid abuses, among others by new arrivals from Georgia or Albania. But as is often the case in such situations, not only the 'medical tourists' (whose number has yet to be estimated) are being punished, but all asylum seekers, whose rights are suddenly being slashed even though they have done nothing to deserve this.”

Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

A mean-sprited deterrent strategy

There are more pressing problems in migration policy, writes the Paris correspondent of the Süddeutsche Zeitung, Nadja Pantel, with an eye to Paris's banlieues:

“Thousands of asylum seekers sleep in tents set up along the motorway on the impoverished outskirts of the metropolis. There are families and even babies among them. Aid organisations estimate that two-thirds of these homeless people have applied for asylum. ... But these undignified living conditions are part of the strategy of deterrence: if we treat the refugees badly enough eventually they'll stop coming. However, this tactic hasn't paid off for years now - and children who have to live in the gutter without shelter as the winter sets in are paying the price.”