Paris, April 23: France's National Assembly has passed a controversial immigration law that has exposed unprecedented divisions in President Emmanuel Macron's young centrist party. After 61 hours of debate, the measure was approved on Sunday in a vote of 228 in favor, 139 against and 24 abstentions.
It passed largely with the support of Macron's Republic on the Move (LREM) party. But one LREM deputy, Jean-Michel Clement, rebelled and announced that he is quitting the president's party after casting a no vote on the proposed law. Opposition to the measure was found across the political spectrum with lawmakers of both the right-wing and leftist parties voting against it, as well as the far-right National Front.
The Lower-House of the French parliament was supposed to vote on the bill Friday, but the fractious debate stretched into the weekend due to more than 1,000 amendments proposed by deputies.
Accepted refugees will be given more help to integrate, such as better access to work and French lessons. The bill also reduces the time that asylum-claimers have to lodge their application from 120 to 90 days and gives them two weeks to appeal if unsuccessful.
France received a record 1,00,000 asylum applications last year, bucking the general trend in Europe where the number of asylum seekers halved between 2016 and 2017.
Many Africans and South Asians end up sleeping on the streets of Paris due to a shortage of accommodation or camping out in Calais hoping to stow away on trucks to Britain.
Controversy over the immigration bill comes as Macron is under pressure for insisting he will push on with sweeping reforms including an overhaul of state rail operator SNCF, despite strikes and street protests.