France proposes reform of asylum, immigration laws

The French government is to table a new asylum-immigration law in April that could ramp up pressure on asylum-seekers and immigrants to quickly regularize their situations, a move argued by authorities that would speed up lengthy requests for residency here, according to cabinet sources.

The French Cabinet, meeting in regular session Wednesday, approved the text submitted by Interior Minister Gerard Collomb and the draft will now be submitted to Parliament in two months’ time, an official cabinet document said.

Critics say that the periods for applying for asylum are too short and that procedures do not allow enough time to compile formal requests.

The new law, if adopted as expected, would require an asylum request to be submitted within two weeks, otherwise refugees face rapid expulsion from France.

The law also intends to toughen up action against illegal immigration here by facilitating deportation procedures and time-lines.

Additionally, penalties against illegals crossing into France are to be made more severe and any falsification of documentation will be punished by a jail term and a fine.

The Interior Minister, in public statements, said that the proposed legislation is “balanced” and aims to improve France’s ability to “welcome those who have a right to benefit from international protection,” like persecuted minorities or refugees forced out of war zones because they have been repressed.

Gerard Collomb also indicated that reform of the immigration-asylum laws is necessary as the number of requests for asylum in France rose to a record 100,000 last year.

The new law would also seek to better orient immigrants seeking to work in France and facilitate the entry of those who have qualifications and also students seeking visas to study here.

Source: Kuwait News Agency