The suspense ended Tuesday evening. Barring any major surprises, the government's immigration bill will be widely adopted in a little less than a week in the Senate. A text toughened by the senatorial majority, which took advantage of the debates in the Upper House to add to this reform some of its flagship proposals, such as the abolition of state medical aid, the reinstatement of the offense of illegal residence, the establishment migration quotas or even the limitation of family reunification.
Above all, the main obstacle to the adoption of the text has been lifted. After numerous negotiations, the centrists of Hervé Marseille and Les Républicains of Bruno Retailleau, reached an agreement on article 3, which provided for the regularization of undocumented workers in professions “in tension”. It will simply be “deleted” announced the two partners of the senatorial majority. And replaced by another article, providing for the tightening of the criteria provided for by the Valls circular, which came into force in 2012, and which authorizes the regularization of foreigners living in France for at least five years and having an employment contract or 'a promise of employment.
A “victory”, believe the two partners of the senatorial majority on Wednesday evening (read below), while the measures in question were voted on at the Luxembourg Palace. “This text is imperfect, perhaps, but it was necessary to prove that the Senate is capable of having a majority on such an important reform. Otherwise, we lose our legitimacy and our capacity to be the point of balance for institutions,” expresses Hervé Marseille.
“We are pleased that an agreement has been reached by the senatorial majority on professions in shortage. This firm and fair text is useful to France. Let’s continue to work together, as the government has always wanted,” welcomed the Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin, on X (ex-Twitter). The host from Beauvau also displayed a delighted smile throughout the day on Wednesday, at the Palais du Luxembourg. Between a selfie with an LR senator and a discussion with schoolchildren who came to visit the Senate, Gérald Darmanin observed, with a cheerful look, the Prime Minister, answering a question from socialist senator Patrick Kanner on the abolition of medical aid of state. A measure endorsed by the senatorial majority after an “opinion of wisdom” from the government. A position of neutrality widely denounced among the ranks of the left.
In the minority at the Luxembourg Palace, the socialist, environmentalist and communist senators also look grim. Those who hoped for a compromise with the centrists on professions in tension saw their main chance of victory disappear. Seated at the Senate refreshment bar, Mélanie Vogel is the illustration of this. Prostrate in her chair, hands on her head, the elected environmentalist does not hide her dismay. “It’s a bit like hell…” she says, disappointed.
“I have the impression that LR won even more than they initially hoped for. This text has concentrated so many political issues which go well beyond the question of regularizations that the possibility of doing serious in-depth work no longer exists. And to argue: “LR is at stake for its survival, Gérald Darmanin for its ministry, Élisabeth Borne for its ability to pass texts and Gérard Larcher for its ability to hold its majority.” An opinion not contradicted by the boss of the PS group, Patrick Kanner. “The centrists have held no dam. They gave up to the right. We are witnessing a “Darmanization” of the text and a recomposition of the right on its hardest fundamentals,” he scathes.
The bill, which therefore has a good chance of being adopted next Tuesday during the formal vote, should be examined in the Assembly from December 11. And the passageways seem much more difficult at the Palais Bourbon. Since the agreement between LR and the centrists, and even more since the vote to abolish the AME, certain Macronists are already starting to make themselves heard. In an interview with Le Figaro, the president of the law committee, Sacha Houlié, talks about an “incomprehensible” decision by the Senate on the AME. Horizons MP Frédéric Valletoux attacks him: “The AME is a red rag that a part of LR and the RN are waving. But this is nonsense in terms of public health!”
The boss of the LR senators, Bruno Retailleau, sent a letter to the deputies on Wednesday. “I affirm that the text which will be voted on in the Senate is right-wing. (…) I am perfectly aware that for you, the battle will be difficult and delicate. (…) You can count on all my support (…) and I am at your disposal to discuss if you wish,” he wrote to them. Way of trying to avoid the divisions that the right experienced at the Palais Bourbon last March, during the pension reform. While the senatorial majority was once again almost perfectly aligned.