France attempts to match immigration policies with labour needs

© Boris Horvat, AFP

The French government on Wednesday announced a bill that would create a specific residence permit to enable illegal immigrants who work in understaffed sector to legalise their status. The new measure aims to fight the exploitation of undocumented migrants and comes at a time when many European countries are experiencing labour shortages.

Immigration took centre stage in France this week, with the issue of expulsion orders for undocumented migrants dominating the political discourse, followed by a parliamentary uproar after a far-right MP on Thursday yelled “Go back to Africa!” as a Black legislator from the far left asked a question on migrant arrivals.

The latest turmoil was sparked when Carlos Martens Bilongo of the far-left France Unbowed party (LFI) was questioning the government’s response to migrants rescued at sea in recent days.

Gregoire de Fournas, a newly elected member of the far-right, anti-immigration National Rally (RN), claimed he shouted, "They should go back to Africa!", but was interrupted.

In French, the pronunciations for the pronouns "he” and "they" are similar. The comment was perceived as a suggestion by de Fournas that his Black parliamentary colleague go back to Africa.

Thursday’s parliamentary furor came a day after the French government unveiled a series of new measures that attempt to integrate immigration policies with labour market needs.

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