Macron saved the immigration law in a crunch parliamentary vote

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French President Emmanuel Macron saved his immigration reform in parliament on Tuesday by toughening foreigners, but faced a crisis in his government when the law was approved with the support of far-right leader Marine Le Pen.

10 days of drama followed the midnight parliamentary polls. During this time the government lost control of long-promised immigration programs and tightened the law to win the votes of conservative lawmakers.

It was the latest sign of how Macron may no longer be able to impose the law as his centrist coalition lacks a parliamentary majority, raising concerns about his ability to govern.

Several left-wing ministers threatened to quit the government over immigration reform, and nearly a quarter of the 251 MPs in Macron’s coalition either voted against the plans or abstained.

The lower house of parliament, the National Assembly, approved the law by a vote of 349 to 186. The Senate also approved the reform.

Interior Minister GĂ©rald Darmanin hailed it as a good compromise “in the interests of the French” on an issue of national importance.

But centrist and left-wing lawmakers denounced the compromise as a capitulation to the racist views of the far-right.

A group of non-governmental organizations called the law “the biggest setback for the rights of foreign nationals in 40 years”, while unions called it a “red carpet” for Le Pen.

Macron’s government, under pressure from Le Pen’s resurgent far-right party and facing public opinion that has hardened against immigration, initially said its reform was a “balance” that would fix long-standing problems.

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It proposed draft legislation that would toughen aspects of the French system dealing with asylum seekers and make it easier to remove people in the country illegally. But it also includes a business-friendly measure to provide work permits to undocumented people working in sectors with labor shortages.

Macron is an example of reform At the same time (At the same time) approach to policy-making, and a reflection of how his government has long embraced ideas and recruited politicians from the left and the right.

But the immigration plans have sparked opposition across the spectrum in parliament, and the government has toughened its plans to secure the necessary votes in the National Assembly in an attempt to save the reform.

Le Pen did a U-turn on Tuesday afternoon and ordered her 88 MPs to support a tougher version of the law, which was much more lax a few days ago.

His move set back the government after negotiations with the conservative Les RĂ©publicains reached a compromise in a cross-party parliamentary group.

“If in power, we will be more and more effective, but this law is on the right track,” Le Pen said. “Our ideas have been an undeniable success.”

His transition heaped pressure on MPs in Macron’s centrist coalition, some of whom hold left-wing beliefs and are loathe to vote with Le Pen’s Coalition National Party.

Three members of the government, Health Minister Aurelian Rousseau, Higher Education Minister Sylvie Retail and Housing Minister Patrice Vergrade, told Prime Minister Elizabeth Bourne that they were considering resigning.

The final version of the legislation keeps the proposal in place to allow undocumented workers to apply for work permits if they are in sectors struggling with labor shortages, such as health care or construction.

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But right-wing MPs also added new rules not put forward by Macron’s government, such as annual quotas for migrants and requiring foreigners to stay in France for up to five years before they qualify for anti-poverty programs such as housing subsidies.

They also made it harder for immigrants to bring family members to France, and ended the automatic citizenship system for those born in France to immigrant parents.

Mathieu Gallard, analyst at pollster Ipsos, said Macron’s immigration war would have long-term consequences.

“It shows us a federated nation that is clearly in a strong position,” he added. “It has created rebels within Macron’s own group, so it will leave scars. His position has been weakened,” he said.

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