Despite the cold weather, thousands in France demonstrate against the strict immigration law

Tens of thousands demonstrated in several cities in France to protest against the controversial immigration law and demanded its withdrawal, amid criticism of the law that it adopts many far-right ideas.

French media said that about 25,000 demonstrators came out in the capital Paris, despite the cold winter weather, on Sunday, January 14, to demand the withdrawal of the law, and in order to maintain “pressure” before the Constitutional Council’s decision on January 25.

Many irregular immigrants participated in that demonstration.

Mariama Sidibe, spokeswoman for the group of illegal immigrants in Paris, said: “We demand the withdrawal of the law, clearly and simply. We came to France to work, we are not delinquents.”

More than 400 collectives, associations, unions and political parties called for demonstrations in rejection of a text that “adopts many of the ideas of the extreme right.”

Marc Sicum, a former public transport mechanic who participated in a march in Marseille (south) with another 2,500 demonstrators according to the authorities, said: “Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin tells us that this text will be necessary to protect us from the extreme right. But in order to remove Marine Le Pen (Leader of the extreme right), he is implementing Marine Le Pen’s program. This is crazy.”

Parliament adopted this text on December 19, which reduces social benefits for foreigners, sets immigration quotas, reconsiders the law on automatic citizenship upon birth in France, and reintroduces the “criminalization of illegal residence.”

349 representatives supported the decision in the House of Representatives, and 186 representatives opposed it shortly after its approval in the Senate. Although the adoption of this text represents a victory for the parliamentary majority, it carries serious political consequences.

The right and far-right voted in favor of the text, while the left voted against it. On the other hand, Center parties that support the government were divided over the text. Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin was quick to welcome the passage of the draft law.

Darmanin said in a post on the X platform (formerly Twitter), “The immigration draft has been finally approved. A long battle for better integration of foreigners and the expulsion of those who commit criminal acts. A strong and firm text.”

On the other hand, human rights and humanitarian organizations have expressed their concern over it because they see it as undermining the right to asylum, family life procedures, and other rights of foreigners linked to the judiciary and freedoms.

It is worth noting that this immigration file is the second most important in the country after the retirement law amendments, which the government forcefully passed through the use of Article 49.3 of the Constitution.

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