Enlarge image

French President Emmanuel Macron: "I say quite frankly that our compatriots have been waiting for this law"


French President Emmanuel Macron has defended the immigration law passed by parliament against criticism from within his own ranks. The law is clearly aimed at discouraging migrants from irregular immigration to France and thus also preventing the social system from being overloaded, Macron said in the evening on the television channel "France 5". At the same time, migrants who have been working without residence papers should receive a residence permit under certain conditions, according to the French head of government.

The controversial law was passed by parliament late on Tuesday evening, albeit in a significantly tightened version under pressure from the conservative opposition party Les Républicains. Since the government has constitutional doubts on some points, Macron wants to submit the law to the Constitutional Council. The Council then examines the legality of the law. Passages may have to be improved before the project comes into force.

Among other things, the latest compromise of the law stipulates that non-European foreigners will only be entitled to housing benefit after five years of residence in France. Exceptions are provided for working migrants as well as for students and recognised asylum seekers. This point had been particularly controversial until the very end.

There was also criticism of the fact that the law was only able to pass parliament because the right-wing nationalist Rassemblement National did not vote against the project, but for it. Instead of clearly isolating itself from Marine Le Pen's party, the government had moved closer to the right-wing party, the accusation went. "I say quite frankly that our compatriots have been waiting for this law and if you want the Rassemblement National not to come to power with its ideas, then you have to address the problems that strengthen the party," Macron said.