A summary of France's immigration bill


French MPs are debating a contentious bill on Tuesday. Immigration Minister Eric Besson's Immigration, Integration and Nationality bill has caused particular controversy, with plans to strip people of their French nationality and expel members of other European Union countries. Below are the main points of the bill.



  •  Violence: in a speech in Grenoble on 30 July, French President Nicolas Sarkozy outlined this amendment to the bill: "We must be able to strip French nationality from anyone of foreign origin who has voluntarily attacked a police officer or anyone else in the employ of the state." In cases where violence results in death, mutilation or permanent disability, nationality can be taken away if the perpetrator has had French nationality for less than 10 years, but not if its leaves them stateless.
  • Travellers: the Schengen pact decrees that citizens European Union member states can move freely and stay anywhere in the Union for three months. The bill proposes that they may be kept out of the country if they "abuse" this right by making multiple journeys in and out of the country or if they are “an unreasonable burden on the social security system”.
  • "Grey" marriages: a term used by Immigration Minister Eric Besson. “Emotional fraud with the goal of immigration," as Besson defines them, are marriages between a foreigner and French person where the French person is considered to have been fooled into marriage under false pretences. The bill proposes these marriages be subject to a seven-year prison sentence, instead of the current five years, and a fine of 30,000 euros, up from 15,000.
  • Ill foreigners: foreigners are allowed to stay in France if their state of health means sending them back would have “exceptionally grave” consequences and if they could not benefit from appropriate treatment in their own country. The debate is turning on the definition of the word “exceptionally”. UMP member Etienne Pinte, for example, has pointed out that “if the treatment exists in the country of origin but the person in question cannot access it in practice, consequences of an 'exceptional gravity' are inevitable: aggravation of the disease, progression of complications, and death”.
  • Retention zones: special zones where groups of 10 or more foreigners may be set up anywhere in the country.
  • Citizens' charter: Candidates for French nationality will have to sign a charter of citizens' rights and duties and fast-track naturalisation will be available for people with "exceptional careers".

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