“Asylum and Immigration Law” a French case study


The Act no. 2024-42 of 26 January 2024 to control immigration and improve integration, also called “asylum and immigration law” was adopted on 19 December 2023. The main aim of this immigration law proposed by Gerald Darmanin is to “step up removals of illegal immigrants”. It includes a reform of the asylum system to speed up the examination of applications, as well as a measure to promote integration, with the creation of a one-year residence permit for workers in occupations in short supply.

This law is highly controversial within the Human Rights Defender and other associations () who consider it to be an ineffective law that exploits the right to residence.

The adoption process

The law was first proposed by Gerald Darmanin (Minister of the Interior and Overseas), then negotiated under the government of Elisabeth Borne (former Prime Minister) in June 2022. In August, the law was postponed, and again in March 2023.

The law was relaunched in October 2023 after the attack in Arras2. The original text was tightened up by the senators and then halted by the National Assembly with a motion for prior rejection. The joint committee validated most of the text tightened up by the senators.

On 19 December 2023, the text was adopted, a victory for the right and extreme right parties. The text was then reviewed by the Constitutional Council, which censured a third of it as unconstitutional.

Eventually, the final text was promulgated on the 26th of January 2024. It covers expulsion procedures, a reform of the asylum application procedure and, until the end of 2026, a new residence permit for workers in short-staffed occupations.

France has passed an immigration law every two years on average since 1945.

A Europe-wide reform was being pushed by Emmanuel Macron during the French Presidency of the Council of the European Union in 2022 (PFUE). Indeed the negotiations of the pact on migration and asylum presented by the European Commission on 23 September 2020 should be finalised in February 2024.

Other French agreements governing immigration

London-Paris agreements 3 4

On the 10th of March 2023, Emmanuel Macron and Rishi Sunak signed an agreement to curb illegal immigration between France and the United-Kingdom.

This project will be funded by the United Kingdom. They will commit £478 million towards the cost of the new coordinated operation.

They have also announced a detention centre in northern France and a command centre with 500 additional officers to patrol French beaches. It was also announced that “the detention centre will hold those detained by French police trying to reach Britain, with an understanding that they will be deported to their home country or the first EU country they entered”.

Bilateral agreements signed by France 5 6

For decades, France has signed bilateral agreements on migration regulation with countries from Africa in particular:

  • the Franco-Algerian agreement: 27.12.1968 (amended)
  • the Franco-Moroccan agreement: 09.10.1987
  • the Franco-Tunisian agreement: 17.03.1988 (amended by the rider of 08th of September 2000)
  • agreements with sub-Saharan African countries: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Republic of Congo Brazzaville, Cote d’Ivoire, Gabon, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal and Togo

In total, France has signed :

  • 7 agreements on the concerted management of migratory flows
  • 11 agreements on the mobility of young people and professionals
  • 3 agreements relating solely to professional migration
  • 14 agreements on movement and residence
  • 14 agreements on working holiday programmes

Current political context in France

In France, under the Fourth Republic, there are five political blocs ranging from the extreme left to the extreme right. Each block includes several political parties.

The economic crises of recent years and the far right’s alarmist rhetoric on immigration have helped them to rise in the opinion polls and in the institutions. In the 2022 presidential elections, Marine LE PEN, the emblematic figure of the far right, finished in the second round against Emmanuel MACRON, campaigning for a second term in office. Even so, her second place remains a victory for this political block. It gives them a greater presence in other institutions such as the National Assembly.

In the current government, there is a majority of deputies from centrist and right-wing parties, while in the national assembly the number of members for the majority parties is 165 for the centre, 89 for the far right and 74 for the far left.7

At the time of the vote on the Immigration Act of 19 December 2023, the Rassemblement National (the main far-right political party) had claimed that it would vote against the text to oppose a regularisation measure, but in the end supported it in order to be able to claim success on “national preference”. This last-minute change, and the adoption of the text by 349 votes against 186, is claimed to be an “ideological victory” for the Rassemblement National.


1 https://fr.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loi_du_26_janvier_2024_pour_contr%C3%B4ler_l%27immigration,_a m%C3%A9liorer_l%27int%C3%A9gration

2  On the 13rd October 2023 a 18-year-old Russian Muslim refugee killed a French language teacher and injured a security guard after shouting “Allahu Akbar”. The attack comes nearly three years since the murdering and beheading of another teacher, Samuel Patty.





7 https://fr.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liste_de_partis_politiques_en_France

By Ms. Melanie GAILLOU – intern in Center of Legal Aid „Voice in Bulgaria“

The material is part of thе internship program of Center of Legal Aid „Voice in Bulgaria“