On February 6, the UEE organized a webinar moderated by two public law professors, Bérangère Taxil (University of Angers) and Serge Salma (University of Grenoble-Alpes), as well as Frédéric Salin (EHESS, Fellow IMC), a doctoral student in sociology, with more than 200 people registered. The objective was to decipher the government’s new bill to “control immigration and improve integration” and its impact on exiled people, and then to answer questions from the audience. The speakers each focused on a specific point of the law: the right to asylum, the right to stay and the right to work.
Please note: The discussions are based on the text presented to the Council of Ministers in February; it may have been modified since then during the parliamentary debates.
Since 1986, various texts proposed have tended to deteriorate the rights and reception conditions of exiled people in France, thus increasing the possibilities of refusal and withdrawal of protection. The political and legal context accentuates the security dimension and deploys a vision of the exiled people as threatening beings.
- A focus on the modification of the right to asylum and the new restrictions (Bérangère Taxil).
This bill deals with a few points of detail around asylum, and we must pay particular attention to its implementation. What is missing is the question of accommodation for asylum seekers, the question of overseas asylum, and the reflection on the legal basis of the asylum visa often issued by consulates.
Access to work for asylum seekers
Immediate access to work for asylum seekers would be limited to people coming from a country with an international protection rate of more than 50% (Syria, Eritrea, Afghanistan). Today, only 2.3% of asylum seekers obtain a work permit.
The decentralization of the OFPRA and CNDA centers
At the OFPRA level, there is a refusal to create a single institution that would merge its skills with those of the OFII, so there is no in-depth institutional re-organization. Conversely, the goal is to increase OFPRA’s decentralization in the provinces and abroad and to anticipate OFPRA’s intervention, which may undermine the social support of people, whereas, this greatly increases the chances of obtaining protection.
Regarding CNDA, we are trying to speed up appeals, the deadlines for which have been delayed for three years. One must pay attention to the question of the decentralization of the CNDA which could lead to an increase in video visits due to the lack of interpreters and therefore cause more dismissals. For the moment, the harmonization of CNDA case law is not planned.
The question of the single judge at the CNDA
Collegiality will not depend on the law but on its concrete application. If it does not disappear, it has been damaged for several years, however, this should not change the protection rate.
- The question of expulsions and the rejection of residence permits (Serge Salma).
The main problem with regard to this right is the application for a residence permit: the Council of State has recognized that the existing legislation is illegal because there is no alternative to the dematerialized procedure for filing the stay. There are some improvements such as the end of detention of children (but only under 16), but it is likely that this will not be applied in Mayotte where 3500 children are detained per year. In addition, the labor law for asylum seekers is also moving in the right direction, even if it will only concern three nationalities.
– The Reception and Integration Contract would contain a French language test whereas there was only a training in French until now, which will be very discriminating against illiterate people.
– The double penalty (deportation measure and prison sentence) could concern many more people (potentially tens of thousands of people, sometimes legally resident) because the categories protected by the deportation measures (such as minors under 13 years) are restricted and the offenses of disturbing public order which are punishable by these penalties will be extended.
– The constraint by body in case of refusal to take fingerprints without prior decision of a judicial judge is very alarming.
– The fact of withdrawing or not renewing the residence permit when there is an attack on the principles and values of the Republic which targets Islamic separatism will probably affect other people because the reason is very broad. In addition, the issue of a residence permit is conditional on an act of commitment to these principles, but this has no value because there is no policy contract.
– The possibility of systematizing visa refusals for people who have already received an OQTF.
- Integration through work (Frédéric Salin)
Under-stress occupational residence permit
An article foresees the granting of a one-year legal residence permit in under stress occupations and under the conditions for exercising these occupations, on an experimental basis until 2026. However, the list of under-stress occupations given by the Ministry of the Interior is obsolete, but this point is decisive. Above all, there is a political and symbolic dimension with the channeling of exiled people towards the most difficult jobs. This reinforces the racist perception of foreigners as available labor and the racist structuring of the organization of work in France. This has been constant for several years and this is why we must claim the right to qualification and the right to the language.
The question of asylum-seekers’ access to work
Another article regarding access to the labor market as soon as you apply for asylum is a step backward because only people in the normal procedure (i.e. a third of the total) who are from the three countries at an international protection rate of 50% are authorized to work. This might introduce a difference in treatment between asylum seekers, which can lead to a difference in the judgment of the right to asylum.
The relationship between the level of language and work
Today there is a policy of rationing French courses, which hinders access to rights because the administration only speaks French but also has qualified jobs and diplomas. There is also a commodification of the French language: only words useful in the context of work are taught, it is an impoverished language adapted to the needs of the economy which is not enough to have the level of French B2 required to obtain nationality.
The shortcomings of this law
– Access to a qualification (with institutional recognition of skills according to a specific process and ensuring a good level of income and job stability) university or professional.
– The theme of accommodation is also set aside with few alternatives between directive accommodation and the isolation it engenders or refusal and the material precariousness that follows.
– The evocation of the administrative difficulties which hinder access to the job market and working conditions such as dematerialization, recognition of the driving license etc.
The next steps
The week of March 27, 2023: consideration of the bill by the Senate (first reading)
May-June 2023: examination of the bill by the National Assembly (first reading)