New French Immigration Bill Divides Ruling Party

On Monday, the French parliament will begin debate on an immigration and asylum bill proposed by President Emmanuel Marcon. His political party, La République En Marche (LREM), has been largely divided regarding the merits of the bill.

So far, in excess of 1,000 amendments to the bill have been proposed by French lawmakers, with around a fifth of them coming from LREM. The party is the strongest one in the National Assembly, which is the country's lower house of parliament.

There are two measures in the bill that been controversial. The first is one that will allow for the prosecution of anyone who aids an immigrant to either enter or stay in the country illegally. The other controversial measure would allow for the detention of the children of parents who have failed to receive asylum status, prior to their deportation.

Christophe Castaner, who is the president's liason with parliament, said in an interview on Monday that there is a lack of cohesion among those who oppose the bill. He also seemed to infer that opponents of the bill within the LREM were being disloyal to the president. He said that the bill represents the president's immigration vision, and that it was this vision that got not only the president elected but also LREM lawmakers.

Richard Ferrand, who is the LREM party leader in parliament, personally talked to 20 party members who are opposed to the bill, and he asserted that he would do whatever it takes to get the bill passed.

On Sunday, the president said in an interview that the bill was necessary because of the large influx of immigrants that have been streaming across Europe, and who are likely to continue doing so. He further justified detaining children, by saying that — if you do not detain children — there is no way you can deport families.

The president also defended prosecuting those who help illegal immigrants, by saying that — while there are some good people who help immigrants for humanitarian motives and that these people should not be prosecuted — there are others who need to be punished for their actions.

On Friday, the National Assembly is scheduled to vote on the bill.

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