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On Immigration: Create a Ministry of Cooperation, Co-Development and Integration

Libyan migrants at a Tunisian transit camp. Credit: DFID - UK Department for International Development

Jacques Cheminade, a leader of the international LaRouche movement and Chairman of the French political party Solidarité & Progrès, issued the following statement Jan. 17 for mass circulation in France to those protesting the immigration bill that was voted up on December 29th by the National Assembly. The bill is scheduled to be reviewed by the Constitutional Council on January 25th.

The first round of protests against the legislation was on January 14th, when more than 35,000 demonstrators gathered in Paris, Rennes, Marseille and Strasbourg. On Sunday, Jan. 21, an estimated 150,000 protestors turned out nationwide, in Paris and many other cities, all demanding that President Emmanuel Macron not sign the new bill.

The unprecedented changes to existing policy include cuts in rental assistance, family allowance benefits, and unemployment benefits. New restrictions are placed on foreign students; migration quotas are set. The bill also removes the right to citizenship of children born in France of non-French parents. In sum, the recently adopted law, proposed by the Macron government, toughens all conditions for migrants to arrive, settle and work in France.

The real political aim of the law, which includes stupid and hateful provisions called for by Marine Le Pen, is to “pre-empt” widespread voters’ anger over living and work conditions in France, and escape the grave defeat everybody expects for the Macron camp at the upcoming European elections in June.

Jacques Cheminade, Chairman of the French political party, Solidarité & Progrès, addresses a Patriots party rally in Paris, Jan. 17, 2023. Credit: S&P

‘Focusing on Immigration, a Fool’s Trap!’

“How dare you say such a thing?” might be your first response. “This is the 29th law passed in France since 1980!”

The reality is that we’ve come up with laws that deal with the effects without going back to the causes. The result? The Mediterranean and the English Channel have become cemeteries, migrants are treated as “people with problems,” not human beings, and 73% of French people think there are too many foreigners in France under the existing economic system. So the issue here is to get out of the current system! In my 2017 presidential campaign, I proposed to create a Ministry of Cooperation, Co-Development and Integration, to raise the level of debate which, today as then, is a disgrace.

So, let’s get back to the basics, now as then. France needs foreign workers in jobs (healthcare, catering, construction, etc.) that too few of our compatriots want to do. There is a growing flow of emigration from regions of the world suffering from war or extreme poverty. In a France that doubts itself and feels itself in decline, this is a cause for concern. Neither the irresponsible exclusion of the Right nor the angelic hypocrisy of the Left are answers in themselves. The answer lies in changing the rules of the political game at home and around the world.

What Needs To Be Done in France

Jobs have to be created for all. In reality, it is the destruction of jobs and employment that creates the conditions for divisions between French and foreign workers. It’s morally unworthy and economically disastrous to allow people to enter France without welcoming them through work and language!

The integration of foreigners has to be organized by teaching them our language and our republican principles, with a serious commitment to make it work, and with the required financial resources to ensure success.

We need to cancel the law recently adopted by the alliance of all the right-wing parties, a law which does no more than increase the selection of migrants. It’s unfair, unrealistic and just for show.

For example, if you are an excluded immigrant without legal papers, you get somebody to lend you his identity card, his banking information, his social security pass and his residence permit, and your employer pays you your wage. The person complicit takes a small profit in the process. Employers turn a blind eye, it’s convenient for them!

Cheminade organizes for the International Peace Coalition, Aug. 2, 2023: “The strategy we propose is peace through mutual development, at home and abroad.” Credit: S&P

The new law proposes giving residence permits to individuals working in economic sectors deemed to be in need of labor. This is no more than 7,000 to 10,000 workers, all in the name of the government’s supposed “generosity”! Worse still, the right to jus soli residency, citizenship granted to children born in France, is now to be given only “on request.” This calls into question our republican law of June 26, 1889.

Calling into question State Medical Aid (AME) is irrelevant and contrary to the right to healthcare of the most vulnerable. Macron himself is so unconvinced by the quality of his new law that he is turning for advice to the Constitutional Council! So, the new law needs a complete rewrite, with no detours or arrangements.

No longer leave the management of migration to the Interior Ministry, which has a partial and biased view of the subject, but entrust it to this new large Ministry of Cooperation, Co-Development and Integration, which will cover all aspects, national and international.

What Needs To Be Done in the World

Take the issue at its source: solving the “problem” of immigration means first dealing with the “problem” of emigration. This means providing all countries with the means for their independence and development, so that their inhabitants can lead a dignified life. To achieve this, we need to break with the neo-colonial system’s financial oligarchy and the International Monetary Fund’s system of structural adjustment, and instead launch major infrastructure projects on a pan-African scale, and pursue a policy of fair access to water and public health. This means changing the direction of our foreign policy.

We must not let our immigration policy, like that of the current law, poison our relations with developing countries. Indeed, our reoriented foreign policy should be based on the struggle, together with the countries of the Global South, for a new architecture of mutual security and development, into which our migration policy must be integrated.

Putting a real end to the European Central Bank’s guardianship of the CFA franc will be a fundamental pillar of this policy, guaranteeing its seriousness.

Pipe Dreams

Take a look in the mirror. Immigration is not fundamentally an issue of the flow of people or a question of security, but of political strategy. The current strategic policy leads to a war of all against all, whereas the one we propose is peace through mutual development, with the same impetus at home as around the world.