French President Emmanuel Macron is running for re-election and his manifesto is heavily focused on the economy and social issues. It is quite vague regarding immigration and rights for foreigners already living in France – but is certainly somewhat to the right since his programme in 2017.
Among the measures he has proposed are:
- Giving long-term residency cards (10 years) only to those who have passed a French exam AND have a job – he does not specify what level of French would be needed to pass the exam
- Reforming the Schengen zone to make it harder to get into Europe;
- Reinforcing the French border force;
- Expelling foreigners who have “upset the public order” – no detail on whether this refers to all criminal offences or only those convicted of serious crimes
- Reforming the asylum process to make it easier to decide who can stay and “to expel more efficiently” those who cannot.
Marine Le Pen
It should come as no surprise that Macron’s main election rival, the far-right Marine Le Pen, is on a mission to “stop uncontrolled immigration”.
As far as immigrating to France in the first place is concerned, she wants to:
- End non-economic immigration and immigration for family reunification purposes;
- Treat all requests for asylum overseas.
But the meat of her policy lies in making life harder for migrants who are already in France:
- Reserve social aid for French people and condition access to other state benefits on having worked in France for five years;
- Give French people priority in social housing and employment;
- Take away visas/residency cards of all foreigners who have been out of work for one year in France;
- Systematically expel illegal immigrants, delinquents and foreign criminals;
- Get rid of jus soli (the right to citizenship through birth in France);
- Allow French citizenship only to people who have “earned it and assimilated” – although she gives no detail on how this would be different to the current process, which already requires a French test and an interview on French culture for those applying through residency or marriage.
You can read her manifesto here.
Leftwing candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon has the most pro-immigration policies out of any of the candidates.
His wants to ensure a wider access to visas and make 10-year residency cards the new standard – in most cases foreigners get a short-term 5-year card first and then can apply for the 10-year card.
He has also spoke about the need to support refugees, guarantee Jus Soli and make it easier to become a French citizen.
You can read his policies here.
Valérie Pécresse represents Les Républicains – the traditional French party of the centre right – but her xenophobic comments on the campaign trail are the kinds of thing that you would expect to hear from the far-right.
“Yes, there is a link between immigration, islamism, terrorism and insecurity,” she said in one TV interview.
During a campaign rally, she even alluded to a racist conspiracy theory.
It comes then as no surprise that her manifesto is full of policies that are hostile to immigration.
Pécresse wants parliament to vote on quotas for the number of residency cards that can be issued every year, setting limits for individual countries and types of workers.
Like Le Pen, she wants asylum claims to be examined overseas.
Another policy cut straight from the Le Pen playbook is limiting state aid, medical care and social benefits to migrants in France.
Pécresse wants to reintroduce bone density tests to determine the age undocumented minors in France. “They will be presumed to be adults if they refuse,” states the manifesto.
She wants French tests to be obligatory for those who want to obtain a residency card – this would entail a language exam and some sort of quiz on the values of the French Republic, although again there is no detail on the level of French required.
She wants French schools to impose a limit of how many ‘non-francophones’ can sit in a classroom.
You can read her programme here.
It is no surprise that far-right pundit-turned-politician, Éric Zemmour, has an anti-immigration manifesto.
If you plan on moving to France, you should cross your fingers that this guy doesn’t take charge.
As far as immigration is concerned, he wants to:
- Limit successful asylum applications to around 100 people per year;
- Get rid of the right to family reunification;
- Require a €10,000 deposit for people coming to France from countries where illegal immigrants tend to come from, to fund deportations;
- Do not allow anyone who has entered the country illegally to stay;
He also wants to make life harder for those already in France:
- Create a ministry of repatriation, to get rid of “undesirable” immigrants including criminals and those on security watchlists
- Only allow people to become French citizens if they have lived in the country for 10 years, have perfect French, a clean criminal record and a “real and verifiable assimilation”. Currently you can apply for citizenship after five years and need B1 level French (competent but not fluent)
- Get rid of Jus soli;
- Expel foreigners who have been out of work for six months.
- Do not allow the automatic renewal of residency cards;
- Get rid of social benefits for immigrants living in France;
- Limit medical care for illegal immigrants to emergency treatment.
You can read his programme here.
The five candidates listed above are currently polling at or above 10 percent and are therefore viewed as having a realistic chance of making it into the second round of polling.