The French Senate passes a law endangering asylum seeking and migrant women

The proposed immigration law under review in France is a cause for serious concern. The draft law threatens the rights of asylum seekers and migrants, with provisions that weaken existing protections and compromise the well-being of vulnerable individuals, including of course migrant women and girls. The Immigration Bill was passed by the Senate on Tuesday 14 November by 210 votes to 115, having been considerably toughened by the government and the Senate majority.

🆘 Now the bill includes:
– Restriction of the right to French nationality for children born in France to foreign parents;
– Abolition of State medical aid;
– Tougher conditions for family reunification, student migration and the issuing of residence permits for foreign nationals who are ill;
– Restriction of access to social rights;
– Reinstatement of the offence of illegal residence;
– Increase in the means of detaining asylum seekers;
– Withdrawal of a residence permit in the event of failure to respect the “principles of the Republic”;
– Exclusion of people without a residence permit from the right to emergency accommodation…

‼️ The bill proposes to ban immigration detention of children under 16 in administrative detention centers, but it leaves room for the detention of older children. It also raises worries about procedural safeguards, such as reducing time limits for appeals and allowing video hearings, potentially undermining the right to an effective remedy for asylum seekers, as per international and European law.

🗣 In France, over half of the migrant population consists of women, yet they remain conspicuously absent from political conversations on immigration and are entirely overlooked in the provisions of this bill. The legislation threatens to exacerbate the challenges faced by women, who already experience dual discrimination based on both their sex and immigration status.

⚠️ The new asylum application procedures via video conference will be highly detrimental to women, especially when recounting instances of male violence. The shortened review timelines at the Office of the French Protection of Refugees and Stateless Persons (OFPRA) will make it nearly impossible to adequately prepare for interviews and support women. The legislation introduces tougher French language proficiency criteria to obtain a multi-annual residence permit. This poses increased challenges for women, some living in isolation or under control, and others juggling childcare responsibilities with very limited free time. Lastly, does the abolition of state medical aid mean that they will no longer have access to abortion ?

📆 The French left as well as CSOs working with migrants denounced a bill motivated by xenophobia and the will to stigmatise foreigners. It now remains to be seen whether these provisions will be approved when the bill is examined by the French National Assembly, starting on December 11th.

Sources: Le Monde and La Cimade

European Network of Migrant Women