France: African students applaud rejection of immigration law, vow to continue to mobilise
France's Constitutional Council largely rejected parts of an immigration bill, a bittersweet victory for African student and human rights associations who fear future anti-migrant laws under a growing far-right political wave in the country.
"It's a victory," praised Jean-Claude Samouiller, President of Amnesty International France, who was present at the gathering near the Constitutional Council in Paris yesterday. "We will be vigilant to ensure that the censored part of the text does not come back through the window," he added.
One month after its chaotic adoption in the French parliament, the Constitutional Council (les Sages) delivered its verdict on Thursday, 25 January.
The constitutional jurisdiction has rejected thirty-five articles out of the 86 adopted by parliament.
Among them, thirty-two are considered "legislative riders," meaning they have insufficient connection with the text under consideration. In these cases, the Council does not express an opinion on the substance of the proposals.
However, these can become the subject of new bills or proposals. Three other articles are partially or totally rejected in substance, including the establishment of migration quotas set by parliament.
"This text remains dangerous, and the government has crossed red lines," emphasised Amnesty France.
🔴Le Conseil constitutionnel censure largement les mesures de la loi « asile et immigration ».— Amnesty International France (@amnestyfrance) January 25, 2024
Mais ce texte reste dangereux et le gouvernement a franchi des lignes rouges.
'A breath of fresh air, but the fight continues.'
Since December of last year, international students in France have been eagerly awaiting Les Sages' decision.
The controversial bill, which President Macron defended, was set to end several students' journeys in France and crash the dreams of those hoping to apply for next year.
A quota, increased fees, and an unspecified financial deposit were the primary articles causing concern among more than 52,000 international students enrolled in French universities, with half of them hailing from the African continent.
"This law highlights what everyone already knows: France continues to shift to the extreme right. I believe that such measures will impact France's ability to welcome talents from elsewhere," Taha Bekhtiar, a Moroccan student at La Sorbonne Law School, told The New Arab.
La censure par le #ConseilConstitutionnel des dispositions concernant les étudiant·e·s étranger·ère·s est un gain de temps et une respiration, mais n'est pas une victoire totale. Le ministre xénophobe @GDarmanin ne s'arrêtera pas là, nous non plus ! Alors le combat continue ! ✊ pic.twitter.com/TsyffvXyFy— UNEF (@UNEF) January 25, 2024
L'Unef, a student union, said Les Sages' decision is a "breath of fresh air" but merely "a time gain."
"The Xenophobic minister Gérald Darmanin (Interior minister) will not stop there, and neither will we! So, the fight continues," wrote the students' union. Around France, student unions are vowing to continue to mobilise until the bill is completely revoked.
Darmanin, one of the lasting ministers in Macron's crumbling government, has advocated for stricter anti-migrant policies since he first joined Macron's cabinet in 2017.
"Never has a text provided so many means to deport criminals and such demands for the integration of foreigners," he wrote Thursday after Les Sages' decision.
President Macron has reportedly asked Darmanin to "do everything possible" to "implement the text as quickly as possible," according to a statement from the President's entourage to AFP.