France proposes special visas for workers in sectors “under stress”
The French government has proposed the creation of a residence permit for undocumented foreigners to fill jobs that cannot find applicants in “stressed” sectors. The proposal also envisages ending in certain cases the six-month period during which asylum seekers cannot work in the country.
Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin and Labour Minister Olivier Dussopt advanced the proposal in a joint interview published Wednesday in the daily Le Monde. The special residence permit will regularise undocumented immigrants already present in France and working in sectors that do not have the necessary labour force, such as construction, hospitality, personal care and healthcare.
The proposal will be discussed from January as part of a series of amendments to the Immigration Law, which also include speeding up the deportation procedure for foreign criminals. “To sum it up, I would say that we must be mean to the mean and nice to the nice,” explained the Interior Minister.
Darmanin recalled that foreigners account for 7% of France’s population but 19% of crime, while in Paris and France’s ten largest cities “they account for half of all crime”.
“I do not reduce immigration to crime, but it would be absurd not to see that a small part of foreigners are responsible for a large part of crime,” he insisted.
“On the other side, a majority of foreigners live from the fruits of their labour and try to integrate,” he added. Dussopt also pointed out that the proposal would reduce illegal work and the abuse of undocumented immigrants by some employers.
“Work must once again become a factor of integration and emancipation”, he stressed. The Interior Minister stressed that business organisations insist that it is necessary to facilitate the recruitment of foreigners, but warned that sanctions for employers responsible for illegal work will also be toughened.
The initiative was immediately rejected by the far-right National Rally (RN). “How to give a new name to a campaign to regularise illegal workers,” said RN leader Marine Le Pen on social media.
RN MP Philippe Ballard warned that the regularisation of irregular immigrants “will be a formidable pull effect” for the arrival of more undocumented immigrants, he said in televised remarks. “It is not a mass regularisation, it will be case by case,” the labour minister told the plenary session of the National Assembly.
Government spokesman Olivier Véran told a press conference that these are “lines of reflection” for a process of parliamentary dialogue prior to the drafting of the bill, but made it clear that a “pragmatic” approach to immigration is needed.