Immigration: Faced with fractures in his camp, Macron defends the ‘shield’ the country lacks

Emmanuel Macron on France 5, December 20, 2023 (Ludovic MARIN / AFP)

Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday night vigorously defended the controversial immigration law as “the shield we lacked”, despite criticism and sharp divisions rocking his camp, and also rejected accusations of compromise with the far right.

“That it offends some deputies, that it offends the ministers, that it upsets you, that is legitimate,” said the head of state, guest of the program “C à Vous” on France 5 live from ‘Elysium. He said so with “respect” for the resignation of his health minister, Aurélien Rousseau, in disagreement with the text adopted on Tuesday evening in pain after a compromise with the right that was approved at the last minute by the National Assembly.

Dozens of votes were missing from Macronist MPs and RN Marine Le Pen claimed an “ideological victory” on one of her historic antiphons, the national preference.

32 left-wing departments have announced for themselves that they will not apply the measure of the law, which it considers “unfair” and “ineffective”, which aims to tighten the conditions for the payment of the personalized allowance for autonomy to foreigners.

“It is not true” that the text contains “provisions that have the nature of a national assembly,” answered Emmanuel Macron on television, making sure that it even represents a “defeat” for the far-right party, as it allows for the legalization of undocumented immigrants. .

If he acknowledged that some measures did not make him “jump to the ceiling”, such as the deposit required from foreign students, which is “not a good idea”, he assured that they “do not justify blocking everything”.

He explained that the aim of the law was “very clearly” to discourage illegal immigration, which he said was a “problem” in France, although he rejected the idea that the country would be “overwhelmed by immigration”.

The president appeared to want to turn his controversial text into a weapon against the far right, believing that to “better protect the country” it is sometimes necessary to resort to “things that may shock people” but “which in my eyes are effective” .

To prevent the RN from coming to power, “we need to address the issues that drive it” and “show that there is a response in the republican field in line with our values”, he argued, adding that he intends to continue acting in his three-and-a-half-year term .

Marine Le Pen on November 14, 2023 at the National Assembly in Paris
Marine Le Pen on November 14, 2023 at the National Assembly in Paris (Ludovic MARIN / AFP)

As of Wednesday morning, the chief executive tried to turn the page on the previous day’s nightmare, the epilogue to 18 months of twists and turns.

“There is no crisis in the majority,” assured Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne on France Inter. “There is no movement of ministerial revolt,” also stated the government spokesman Olivier Véran after a meeting of the Council of Ministers marked by the absence of Aurélien Rousseau, Élisabeth Borneo’s former chief of staff in Matignon.

make a “block”

Transport Minister Clément Beaune leaving the Elysée, December 6, 2023 in Paris
Transport Minister Clément Beaune leaving the Elysée, December 6, 2023 in Paris (Geoffroy Van der Hasselt/AFP/Archives)

In particular, the stance of several of Macron’s left-wing ministers has been scrutinized, some of whom put their resignations in the balance on Tuesday. That Transport Clément Beaune was challenged by the left condemning “betrayal” during a meeting of the regional council of Ile-de-France. He simply indicated that he would have “an opportunity to speak.”

To put out the fire, Emmanuel Macron, in accordance with his commitment, immediately contacted the Constitutional Council so that it could “decide on the compliance of all or part of this law”.

Flexibility, which the prime minister herself recognized as fragile. The text “will evolve”, she explained, not excluding also a “return” to some provisions, such as personalized housing assistance, which crystallized the last debates.

Statements that question the determination of the head of state to apply the text are judged by the head of the senators of Les Républicains Bruno Retailleau, one of the architects of the agreement with the government on the law.

He called on the head of state to “respect the choice of deputies”.

“The Constitutional Council is not a conscience washer,” responded the head of the Socialist Party, Olivier Faure. On the same basis, former president François Hollande estimated that Emmanuel Macron and his government had “adopted” the “ideas” of the far right.

Elisabeth Borne also assured that State Medical Assistance (AME) for unregistered foreigners “will not be abolished”, although she committed to the right to reform it in early 2024.

Several figures in the majority did not hide their embarrassment at the center, highlighted by Marine Le Pen’s support for the text, which aims to make it easier to deport illegal migrants and reduce the appeal of France’s social protection system for foreigners.

Sacha Houlié, Representative of the Renaissance Group and President of the Legal Committee, at the National Assembly in Paris on December 11, 2023
Sacha Houlié, representative of the Renaissance group and president of the legal committee, at the National Assembly in Paris on December 11, 2023 (Ludovic MARIN / AFP)

Legal Affairs Committee chairman Sacha Houlié, who voted against, said he was “a bit hungover”. The president of the National Assembly, Yaël Braun-Pivet, admitted that she “would not have written 100% of the text” and that “most of them were going through somewhat painful moments”.

Conversely, former Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, one of the favorites for the 2027 presidential election and a member of the Macronian right wing, welcomed the “compromise between the majority and the LR” which “creates the tools, including the ones we need”.

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