ADHRRF – The French government unveiled the draft immigration and asylum law on February 21. It’s noted that the new immigration law regards “control, classification, expulsion” as core principles, saying it values the asylum right while emphasizing control, which has caused much controversy.
At 6:30 p.m. on February 21, about 3000 people converged at the Saint-Michel Square in Paris to protest against the government’s forthcoming new law.
Participants included members of Parliament, the staff of associations for helping refugees, representatives of Students and Development (Etudiants et Développement, E&D), asylum seekers, and Parisians. The protesters set out from the Saint-Michel Square and headed for the National Assembly near the Palais Bourbon, holding banners and placards saying “Stop Control! Stop Classification! Stop Expulsion!” “Welcome Refugees!” etc. They marched and chanted slogans such as “Solidarity!” (Solidarité) and “Papers! Papers! For All the Undocumented!” (Les papiers, les papiers, pour tous les sans papiers).
The concerned people pointed out that the draft bill shortens the deadline to submit asylum applications from the current 120 days to 90 days after migrants enter France, which will greatly limit the chances of asylum seekers to obtain asylum.
In response to this issue, Ms. Héloïse Mary, President of Office of Reception and Assistance for Migrants (Bureau d’accueil et d’accompagnement des migrants, BAAM), said in an interview, “This will bring unprecedented problems to the refugees, and these articles in the new bill will criminalize the refugees.”
Ms. Cathy Le Goff, president of E&D, said that reducing the waiting time on asylum applications actually means bringing the examination of asylum claims to an early conclusion, that is, expelling the refugees out of France. This will make it tough for refugees, and it is a real disaster.
As for what the proposal of extending the maximum time of detention from 45 to 90 days means to refugees, Mr. Jean-Paul Lecoq (a member of the National Assembly of France) told the reporter that the detention center is not a place to hold people on the basis of humanism. Therefore, it’s very absurd to increase the detention time of the undocumented migrants. On the contrary, they should be released from the detention center as soon as possible, because they just want to seek asylum peacefully.
Ms. Héloïse Mary, president of BAAM, said, “This means that the law on refugee asylum will be invalid and we cannot guarantee freedom, because the detention center is like a prison, a prison for foreigners. This practice conveys a message that France does not welcome refugees, but we say ‘Welcome refugees.’”
Christians from The Church of Almighty God (CAG) said in an interview that if the new bill is passed, it will severely undermine the rights of asylum seekers and increase their risk of being deported. They added that they escaped to France to seek asylum because of persecution, and once deported, their lives will be at risk.
During the demonstration, Mr. Jean-Paul Lecoq remarked in the interview that as a country supporting human rights, France should not reject refugees, because those refugees have lost everything and risked their lives to reach Europe to seek asylum.
It’s reported that the French parliament will discuss whether or not to adopt the draft bill in April this year.