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What Made Macron Take Nationalist Approach on Immigration in France?

A turn in the tide no one was expecting, but perhaps French President Emmanuel Macron has also taken a leaf out of what is going on in Europe. As per the reports, French government is planning to restrict migrants and refugees’ access to medical care, as part of an anti-immigration move.

On Wednesday, French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, presented a 20-point “immigration plan” to the country’s national assembly and said: “We want to take back control of our migration policy.” The ideas that were based on the same rhetoric as Brexit, which also demands to take charge of the UK.

Among the policies, a new three-month waiting period or “delai de carence” is applicable before the asylum seekers can avail the medical facility. It is a time period that restricts access to universal Puma or “protection universelle maladie” programme, which anyone living in France can use if they are not covered by another insurer. Currently, the system allows using the facility as soon as an application is submitted for the refugee status.

The policy has drawn in huge criticism from various human rights groups, who have accused the government of playing the “electoral game” with refugee lives and triggering migrant crisis.

Other than that, the plans also include clearing the migrant camps from Paris’ outskirts and quotas for industries that require skilled migrant forces.

“This is about France hiring based on its needs,” said Labour Minister Muriel Pénicaud. Besides France learning from Brexit and conveying that the system would be similar to what is implemented in Canada or Australia.

What’s Fueling the Change?

From dealing with the rise of Yellow vest movements that began against rising fuel taxes by Macron’s government, to taking a dig at the Eurosceptic norms and openly condemning nationalistic policies, the French President’s globalist approach was often praised by the world leaders. However, not so much in the nation, where the President has already seen a major rebuke from the French people during his reign so far.

The scenario has not only given rise to major conflicts within the nation, but also ruffled his chances to regain the flagship position in 2022.

According to a new opinion poll published last month, Emmanuel Macron’s approval ratings were as low as 26 per cent, a 4 percent drop from the last month. Although, the move taken prior to it to reshuffle the Cabinet was aimed at boosting the numbers, the situation suggests vice-versa.

The migrant crisis has already gripped the entire continent, with continuous reports putting light on how hundreds of refugees from war-torn area try and reach Europe every year. However, the current moves by the French government rule out every possibility that they would move ahead to support the load sharing of migrants with other European nations.

“By overlooking a shared diagnosis and a real dialogue with civil society, the government makes migrants and refugees scapegoats for an electoral game,” said Cécile Coudriou, president of Amnesty International France.

The French President is up against organized opposition from Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Rally party, a re-brand of the National Front.

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