Immigration bill: House and senators stalled, resumed Tuesday morning

The head of the legal committee of the National Assembly Sacha Houlié during a debate on the immigration law in the National Assembly on December 11, 2023 in Paris (Ludovic MARIN / AFP/Archives)

The conclave of deputies and senators who must decide the fate of the immigration law must resume after an overnight adjournment on Tuesday morning, facing last-minute disagreements between the executive and the right, which have cast clouds over the text as over the future of Emmanuel. Macron’s five-year term.

This Joint Joint Commission (CMP), which many believed would end the evening, was already slowed from its 5pm start by a 4-hour adjournment, finally halted at 12.30pm and will not resume until Tuesday. at 10:30 a.m., again several dozen articles to peruse.

While an agreement between the right and the presidential camp was emerging, the negotiations suffered from an unexpected dispute over family allowances.

The right wants to condition social benefits on a five-year presence in the territory (30 months for workers), including personalized housing assistance (APL), which, on the other hand, the majority wishes to escape these restrictions.

This Macronist position “does not respect” “commitments”, protested the head of the LR senators, Bruno Retailleau, on the X social network.

The head of the Renaissance MPs, Sylvain Maillard, criticized the right-wing Les Républicains party for “failing to respect” the agreement reached before the CMP.

The president of La France insoumise (LFI) Mathilde Panot (c) during talks with the government, December 12, 2023 in Paris
The president of La France insoumise (LFI) Mathilde Panot (c) during talks with the government, December 12, 2023 in Paris (Bertrand GUAY / AFP)

The measure, which has become so tense that it threatens the entire text, has already been postponed until the end of the debates, time to find a new agreement. A delegation of majority MPs responsible for the immigration law paid a quick visit to Matignon on Monday evening before returning to their seats.

This CMP is a “masquerade of democracy”, criticized the leader of the insoumise group La France Mathilde Panot, and together with several left-wing elected representatives called for the withdrawal of the text. The executive promised to do so if the CMP failed.

“Navy Blue Lines”

“All topics are possible on the APL,” Renaissance MP Guillaume Kasbarian said, but these issues “are not resolved at midnight the day before” by voting on the entire text.

“We will be extremely firm that APLs are part of the final text,” promised LR Pierre-Henri Dumont.

While waiting for the arrival of the famous article on allowances, the CMP confirmed several measures introduced by the right in the Senate: multi-year immigration quotas defined in parliament, the crime of illegal residence punishable by a fine, or even restrictions on access to reduced transport fares for irregular immigrants.

“The majority retreated on all the red lines and crossed the navy blue lines,” socialist group chairman Boris Vallaud, a member of the CMP, condemned the journalist.

Several thousand protesters also marched in France on Monday at the call of collectives to call for “resistance” against the “denial of republican values”.

“We are pleased that this text contains a significant amount of Marine Le Pen’s proposals,” emphasizes RN representative Edwige Diaz on the other hand.

“Able to Legislate”

But the main hurdles appeared to have been cleared ahead of this meeting of seven MPs and seven senators from all parties to seek a final compromise.

Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne, December 12, 2023 in Paris
Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne, December 12, 2023 in Paris (Ludovic MARIN / AFP/Archives)

To add drama, the prime minister reacted at the last minute to the right’s ultimatum on state medical assistance and promised in writing that “at the beginning of 2024, he will initiate a reform of this system that will allow undocumented foreigners to use medical care.” care.

For Emmanuel Macron, who advocated an “intelligent compromise” on Friday, it is a crucial step in his second five-year term.

To come to an agreement, he had to approve a clear shift to the right, with the risk of disunity in the presidential camp.

However, some elected officials favorable to the president admit that they expect the Constitutional Council to censor several very right-wing measures, such as tightening family reunification or setting annual migration quotas.

The right also appears to have won its case for regularization of undocumented workers in shortage occupations, which would be left to the prefects’ discretion.

If the final disagreements are finally overcome, the CMP text will return to each chamber. The Senate’s vote seems certain, but the Assembly’s vote is much more uncertain, especially because of divisions in the president’s camp.

Élisabeth Borne, whose government survived a new no-confidence motion in the Assembly in the evening, was expected to face Renaissance MPs on Tuesday morning to try to persuade the recalcitrant left wing.

“Despite the swallowed snakes, we are following the measures we have taken,” affirmed one elected representative, insisting on “the interests of showing that we are still able to pass laws.”

Members of the centrist Liot group, who have so far supported the government, also risk a split. And even LR, rumored to be ill-disciplined, managed to count opponents in their ranks around the rebellious Aurélien Pradié.

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