[JURIST] Thousands of Parisians marched through the city Saturday in a protest [advocacy website, in French] against a contentious [JURIST report] new immigration law [text, in French] passed [AFP report] by the French Parliament [official website] Friday. The new law makes it more difficult for immigrants to obtain residency permits and ends the practice of automatically granting long-term residency papers to illegal immigrants who are able to prove that they have lived in the country for 10 years. It was passed despite continuing controversy over provisions that could lead to the deportation of school-age children of illegals [JURIST report]; thousands of French citizens have signed petitions supporting sheltering of the children, but while mediation efforts continue the government says no children will be deported immediately.
Sponsoring French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy [official profile, in French; BBC profile] says the law allows the government to implement "immigration of choice," with an aim to attract skilled workers and exclude unqualified immigrants. He has also said he plans to send home at least 25,000 illegal immigrants this year. Sarkozy proposed the law [JURIST report] in February. Critics of the legislation [JURIST report], including the Catholic and Protestant churches in France, human rights groups and labor leaders, insist the legislation would hurt French immigrants, potentially split up families, and damage France's reputation of accepting foreigners, especially those persecuted in their home countries. AP has more. Le Monde has local coverage.