“We will find an agreement.” Tuesday, the evening was just beginning in the Senate when, at the bend of a corridor not far from the conference room, Hervé Marseille assured that between his group, the centrist Union, and the Republicans, a compromise had been found on Article 3 which provides for the regularization of illegal immigrants working in so-called “shortage” occupations. The two components of the majority had been trying for several days to find a landing point on this measure rejected by the right and rather well received by the centrists. It's done.
“The senatorial majority agreed on the deletion of articles 3 and 4 of the immigration bill,” announced the leader of the LR senators, Bruno Retailleau, in a press release. Specifying that “these deletion amendments will be proposed tomorrow by the law committee” then put to the vote in public session at the end of the week. “The deletion of these two articles restores true coherence and effectiveness to the text,” said the senator from Vendée. “It is supplemented by the desire of the senatorial majority to regulate much more strictly the regularization power of prefects, by tightening the criteria provided for by the Valls circular.”
The idea is as follows: the prefects “will have the obligation” to verify “the nature of the professional activities of the foreigner” as well as their “social and family integration, their respect for public order, their integration into society French, his adherence to the way of life and the values of the national community, and his absence of criminal conviction. A leading LR senator comments: “This agreement is a victory for the majority of the Senate.” Everyone is, in some way, served: centrists have a legislative hook; the right, for its part, obtains the impossibility for illegal immigrants to have an enforceable right to settle wherever they wish. “This agreement should allow the Senate to vote on its own text, which profoundly modifies the version presented by the government,” concludes Bruno Retailleau. “Especially since many tougher measures in the bill will be voted on by the senatorial majority,” he specifies, taking the example of the elimination of the AME.
For several months, the right had been warning: during the debates in the Senate on the immigration bill, it wanted to tighten the conditions for granting the system allowing foreigners in an irregular situation to benefit from access to care. It is now done. Late Tuesday afternoon, the Upper House adopted the abolition of State Medical Aid and the creation (AME), instead, of Emergency Medical Aid (AMU) which would only concern “the provision of prophylaxis and treatment of serious illnesses and acute pain, pregnancy-related care, statutory vaccinations and preventive medicine examinations”.
Before the vote, discussions on the subject were very tense between the right of the Hemicycle, in favor of this measure, and the left, very opposed. “It would bring nothing except shame,” criticized environmentalist Raymonde Poncet-Monge. Same opinion for the socialist Anne Souyris: “Suppressing the AME is condemning the most precarious among us to death,” she said in the Hemicycle. “We understood that what was at stake with this law was the survival of your party and the future of the minister. But we don’t play with the health of the French,” attacked ecologist Yannick Jadot, targeting the right and Gérald Darmanin. Despite this adoption in the Senate, the measure has little chance of being adopted in the National Assembly, where part of the presidential majority and the entire left are against it. Established by the government of Lionel Jospin in 2000, this aid is regularly targeted by the right. At issue: its cost, estimated at 1.14 billion euros in the initial finance law for 2023, an increase of 12.5% compared to the previous year.
The Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin, said he was in favor of the establishment of the AMU. But the subject divides within the government, since the government spokesperson, Olivier Véran, has publicly opposed it. For her part, the Prime Minister, Élisabeth Borne, commissioned a report last month to determine whether adaptations to the AME are necessary.