France's Immigration Bill Antagonises Both Right and Left - Expert

© AP Photo / Emilio MorenattiMigrants line up as the wait for a food ration distributed by the Banque Alimentaire of Calais at a camp in northern France, Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2015
Migrants line up as the wait for a food ration distributed by the Banque Alimentaire of Calais at a camp in northern France, Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2015 - Sputnik International
The National Assembly in France has passed a controversial immigration law that has limited the application time and brought in sentences for those entering France illegally. Sputnik contacted Paul Smith, Associate Professor in French and Francophone Studies at Nottingham University, to discuss the issue.

After 61 hours of debating, the measure was approved in a vote of 228 in favour, 139 against and 24 abstentions.

The debate stretched over the weekend as more than 1000 amendments were suggested, challenging the plans to double the time migrants can be detained for

Government opposition defended the bill but it came in for criticism by right wing deputies for being too soft while Left wing members called it repressive.

Sputnik: How controversial is this immigration bill in France?

Paul Smith: It's controversial at a political level as on one side it antagonises the right and in other aspects it antagonises the left. But generally speaking, public opinion is in favour of the stipulations of the legislation, that's what coming out of the public opinion polls, so therefore in general, the public is backing the bill even though it had a rocky ride through the National Assembly

Sputnik: The bill has been called balanced, but drawn criticism by the left and right and dangerous by Amnesty international. Why have they seen a need to make the changes to immigration?

Paul Smith: Well I think that both sides felt there needs to be clarity and a tightening up of the legislation with regard to asylum seekers and the amount of time the process takes; on the one side they're trying to accelerate the process, so that people arriving in France and claiming asylum — that process is happening quickly. Also at the same time trying to guarantee that the speeding up of the process does not mean it becomes more slapdash or hit and miss.

Sputnik: It has passed but how much pressure will this put on Macron at a when there is strikes across France?

Paul Smith: I think it's an important part of the Macronist piece as it were, it is an important part of his reforms. He needs to get key pieces of reform in place and working and having an impact before the next round of elections — there will be European elections roughly this time next year in France — that will be the first electoral test. That feeling of Macron and his Prime Minister is that you need to get these things up and running. It's still got to get through the Senate, that will be not quite so straightforward but ultimately the National Assembly will have the final word, if the Senate becomes tricky.

The opinions expressed are those of speaker alone and do not necessarily reflect the position of Sputnik News.

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