French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced the country’s first migrant worker quota Wednesday amid the Macron’s administration’s push for stricter immigration policies.
Philippe announced in a press conference that the plan would help France “take back control” over its expanding migrant population.
“Retaking control means when we say yes it really means yes, and when we say no it really means no,” said Philippe, who serves under President Emmanuel Macron. “We’ve decided to go far in opening up where we think it’s good for France, and go far in restrictions where the abuses are intolerable.”
The new policy is expected to take effect in the next year and will grant visas according to the country’s employer and industry needs. It will also include measures to withhold medical care to newly arrived asylum seekers for up to three months.
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“This is about France hiring based on its needs. said Labor Minister Muriel Penicaud. “This is similar to what is being done in Canada or Australia.”
Immigration has now become a major political concern for Macron’s La Republic en Marche party as right-wing voters continue to threaten his chances of winning office again in 2022.
Marine Le Pen, leader of the National Rally party and 2017 presidential candidate, remains Macron’s toughest competition for president. Her party topped Macron’s in the European election this summer — it's considered “the first round” of presidential elections.
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Le Pen has called Macron’s attempts at tougher immigration laws a “smokescreen” and has told her voters that his plans will ultimately lead to more immigration.
François Gemenne, a politics professor at the Paris Institute of Political Studies, told The Financial Times that Macron has been forced to appeal to the right without ignoring the needs of his supporters.
“If they want on the one hand to increase economic migration, they feel obliged on the other hand to offer some sops to the far-right,” said Gemenne. “On the whole, there is a lot of hot air and lots of small measures without a lot of impact.”
Other members of the Parliament on the left have criticized Macron.
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Oliver Faure, secretary of the Socialist party, called the decision “scandalous on the humanitarian level.”