This was to be one of the strong points of the immigration and integration law, an important social step forward. A way, too, of highlighting the link between immigration and the economy. Alas, the famous article 3 of the bill, the one which aimed to regularize undocumented immigrants in professions in shortage, was, for obscure reasons of political maneuvering, quite simply removed from the bill.
Under the pretext that this would create a “draft” of migrants, a phrase as striking as it is vague, the senators did not want it. They replaced it with another article (4 bis) which, on the contrary, toughens the conditions for regularization through work by leaving decision-making power in the hands of prefects.
The right has fought the wrong battle by brandishing the security motive. And the government quickly gave up on it. Too bad, this article finally gave the opportunity to debate our strategy for economic immigration, an issue always left fallow, because it is considered likely to inflame public opinion.
However, during the Covid-19 pandemic, there were major political speeches, hand on heart, to praise these “invisible workers”, those who continued to move: nursing home staff, personal services, hospital caregivers, these people also who cleaned streets and buildings… So many professions which we cannot do without for the life of our societies, and which we know well that they represent a high percentage of non-regularized people.
Voting for such an article would also have demonstrated in a positive way everything that immigrants bring to France. Above all, by hiding our faces, we prevent a more global and long-term vision of this issue. However, we know that the decline in the birth rate in France, as in the rest of Europe, will naturally increase significant needs for many sectors, already “in tension”. And that more and more jobs with high added value, requiring real professional qualifications, will have difficulty finding candidates. We will have to recruit talented young people from outside. Which will not be without problems, while France remains lagging behind in terms of attractiveness of a qualified foreign workforce, due to the lack of reception structures, as revealed , at the beginning of November, a recent study of the global index by the European Institute of Business Administration (Insead).
The most surprising thing in this debate which did not take place is the silence of entrepreneurs, with the exception of the catering and hotel sector, which has a very urgent need for personnel. The bosses, who are often the first to ask the prefect for the regularization of employees, have not stepped up to the plate, thus making themselves complicit in a very hypocritical system, where illegality is known and accepted without saying it, and where certain Unscrupulous employers take advantage of a workforce that cannot defend itself. But it’s not just them.
In reality, we are all concerned, and not only, as Gérald Darmanin told the media, in a somewhat casual tone, for “our nannies and our cleaners”. We really have to hide our eyes so as not to see the place taken by immigration at work around us, whether in our cities or on construction sites, cleaning, personal assistance, deliveries, or in rural areas, in vegetable fields or vineyards.
If we truly want to integrate these newcomers, it is important to recognize their true contribution to the economy. It is a question of dignity, for them, and also for us. Unfortunately, the ambient climate, made of fear and suspicion, does little to help us.