France unveils plan to curtail right to French citizenship in Indian Ocean islands of Mayotte

French authorities have announced a controversial plan to amend the constitution to revoke birthplace citizenship on the French Indian Ocean island of Mayotte, claiming it would help stem an immigration crisis. The reform was announced by interior minister Gérald Darmanin on Sunday after he arrived on the island, the country’s poorest department (administrative region), following three weeks of protests there.

“We are going to take a radical decision,” Darmanin said. “It will no longer be possible to become French if you are not the child of a French parent,” he said. The measure would reduce “the attractiveness” of the archipelago for prospective immigrants, he said.

“It is an extremely strong, clear, radical measure, which obviously will be limited to the Mayotte archipelago,” said Darmanin.

France currently grants citizenship through both bloodline and birthplace, and the proposal risks further ramping up of tensions in France following the adoption of a new immigration law.

Syl, (edited ) avatar

The current government is letting the situation fester. They already had water problem, where a third of the population would get fresh water, combined with immigration problem…

livus avatar

@Syl thanks for the info. That water crisis sounds really bad.

livus avatar

From the article:

Mayotte is composed of two islands that voted to stay part of France in 1973. The others in the surrounding Muslim-majority archipelago sought independence, becoming the Comoros Islands.

While the left denounced the fresh plan as another attack on French values, some local campaigners in Mayotte welcomed it, and political leaders on the right and the far right quickly suggested it be applied across the whole of France.

In Mayotte’s capital, Mamoudzou, several hundred protesters greeted Darmanin and his entourage with boos and shouts of “Mayotte is angry.”

Boris Vallaud, head of the Socialists in the National Assembly, said they would oppose the revision of the constitution. “Birthright citizenship is not negotiable,” he told broadcaster France 3.

Manon Aubry of the far-left France Unbowed (LFI) party denounced the decision. French President Emmanuel Macron’s administration was “attacking the very concept of nationality, the foundation of the Republic”, she said...

Centrist MP Aurelien Tache told BFMTV that “if this provision is enacted and if Marine Le Pen then comes to power, it will be the end of birthright citizenship in France.”

Eric Ciotti, leader of the rightwing Republicans party, welcomed Darmanin’s proposed reform – but complained it did not go far enough. “What is happening in Mayotte risks hitting mainland France tomorrow,” he posted on X, formerly Twitter. The measure should be applied across the whole of French territory, he added....

Mayotte, which lies north-west of Madagascar, became a full-fledged French department in 2011. Thousands of Comorans fleeing poverty and corruption make the trip across to Mayotte every year in search of higher living standards.

The influx has caused major tensions, with many on Mayotte complaining about crime and poverty. There have been weeks of protest against insecurity and the migration crisis. A months-long water crisis has exacerbated tensions.

According to France’s National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies (INSEE), the 375-square kilometre island is home to about 310,000 people, but officials say this figure is seriously underestimated.

More than 40% of the islanders survive on less than €160 (£137) a month, said INSEE. Nearly half of island residents do not have French nationality.

Residence permits issued to foreign arrivals in Mayotte are valid only for the island and cannot be used to travel to mainland France. The scrapping of that system is one of the key demands of the protesters.

Darmanin said the authorities would abolish the measure as part of the changes, which some protesters welcomed.

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