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France immigration bill sows seeds of dissent in Macron party

The French parliament votes Friday on a tough immigration bill that has sparked rumblings of revolt within President Emmanuel Macron’s party, with several MPs openly challenging his plans to speed up deportations of failed asylum seekers.

According to Press TV, the government argues that tighter controls are needed to check the rise of anti-immigration populists, who are on the march across Europe from Berlin to Budapest after suffering a setback in last year’s French elections.

“I fear that if we do not resolve the problem facing us… others will do it without any humanity,” Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said earlier this month.

The bill aims to both cut waiting times for asylum applications — from around a year currently to six months — and make it easier to deport those turned down as “economic” migrants.

The right-wing opposition say the bill is too soft but left-wing parties and NGOs have branded it repressive.

“We cannot take on the misery of the world,” Macron, who campaigned as a champion of open borders but has adopted a tough line on migration since taking office, said in an interview with BFMTV on Sunday.

Macron pointed to the “ticking bomb” of population growth in Africa, wars and climate change among factors that would continue driving migration to Europe in the years to come.

Faced with an “unprecedented” wave of arrivals the government would focus on welcoming those whose lives were at risk in their country of origin, he said firmly.

France received a record 100,000 asylum applications last year, bucking the general trend in Europe, where the number of asylum seekers halved between 2016 and 2017.

A shortage of accommodation means many wind up on the streets of Paris, or the northern port of Calais, a gateway to Britain, where a squalid camp housing thousands of migrants was razed by the state in late 2016.