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  • President Emmanuel Macron's LREM party was the biggest backer of the legislation.

    President Emmanuel Macron's LREM party was the biggest backer of the legislation. | Photo: Reuters FILE

Published 23 April 2018
Opinion

The bill reduces application deadline from 120 to 90 days with an additional two weeks to appeal if unsuccessful.

France's National Assembly has managed to push through a controversial immigration bill with 228 votes for, 139 against and 24 abstentions, following more than 60 hours of debating.

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After more than 1,000 recommended amendments, one-fifth of which came from the Republic On The Move (LREM), the lower house was forced to postpone a vote on the bill Friday. President Emmanuel Macron's LREM party was the biggest backer of the legislation, the AFP report said.

The bill reduces application deadline from 120 to 90 days with an additional two weeks to appeal if unsuccessful and introduces a one-year prison sentence for entering France illegally. The bill also extends the maximum detention time for undocumented immigrants to 90 days.

Human Rights Watch say shortening asylum application deadlines could negatively impact the "most vulnerable asylum seekers, who would be the ones most likely to miss the deadline."

"Under the guise of providing a more effective asylum system, the bill includes a series of measures that would diminish access to protection," the group's France director Benedicte Jeannerod said in a statement.

Leftwing opponents of Macron also lashed out at keeping asylum seekers – including children – in detention for a longer period of time.

"Nothing justifies locking up a kid," Socialist deputy, Herve Saulignac, said.

However, Interior Minister Gerard Collomb pushed back against the criticism, saying, the bill aims for "better controlled" immigration as well as help refugees to better integrate into the society.

Amnesty International France said the law was "dangerous" for migrants and asylum seekers.

The bill "failed to address difficulties facing migrants and asylum seekers in France," Cécile Coudriouv, president of the organization, explained.

France received a record 100,000 asylum applications last year.

The bill will next be debated in the upper house in June.

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