A French MP in the French National Assembly (Parliament) accused the authorities of his country of being tough with Algerian visa applicants, in response to what Paris says is a lack of cooperation from Algeria regarding the issuance of the consular licenses necessary to return the “harraga” or illegal immigrants to their homeland, stressing that France made Algeria its first field of experiment with regard to the policy of granting visas conditional on deportation of the “harraga” back home.
Representative of the French National Assembly, Madjid Al-Ghurab, told “Echorouk” that the French authorities have only one way to force African countries to cooperate with regard to illegal immigration, and this method is legal entry into French soil by granting them bona-fide visas.
Madjid El-Ghurab, who represents French nationals abroad, pointed out that it was noticed 3 years ago that the French authorities were clearly using this file (granting visas in exchange for issuing consular licenses to deport the “harraga”), pointing out that the first country concerned with this was Algeria, as Paris sharply reduced the visas for Algerian nationals between 2018 and 2019.
He explained that Paris, instead of exerting pressure on political decision-makers, turned it in the direction of citizens who did not ask for anything (visa applicants).
The French MP believes that France’s refusal to grant consular licenses to Algerians to travel to France in what is known as short licenses that do not exceed 90 days and are limited to France only and not to the Schengen space or the so-called “VLT”, is due to Algeria’s closure of its borders to all foreign countries.
MP El Ghurab confirms that this French toughness in dealing with Algeria with regard to granting visas emerged before the spread of the Corona virus pandemic (Covid-19), explaining that it seems that this French dealing with the visa file of Algerians is part of the arsenal of pressures applied by Paris on those countries it deems as not cooperating in obtaining consular licenses to deport illegal immigrants (“harraga”) from French soil, including those hailing from Algeria.
In this regard, he said, (“I have a feeling that France has made Algeria its first field of experiment with regard to this policy (consular licenses for Harraga in exchange for granting visas)”.
“The French-Algerian relationship cannot be reduced to pressures of this kind or the tightening of the screws on visa applicants, because between the two countries there are two centuries of common history and overlapping relations between the two peoples, but they do not seem to be at the level of our common challenges,” MP Al-Ghurab added.
The representative explains that since last March, thousands of people and hundreds of couples couldn’t get together to wrap up their marriage ceremonies and students have found themselves unable to move because they were not granted a visa, explaining that this pressure by Paris is supposed to be exerted on the leaders of African countries, but in the end it is exerted instead on visa applicants, considering that this situation is not befitting of the historical and deep relationship between Algeria and France.
A report pointed out that this French tough line with Algerian visa applicants made the number of those who benefited from visa granting collapsing from 412,000 visas in 2018 to 274,000 in 2019 (-138,000 visas).
And at the end of last November, French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin detonated a bomb when he said that President Emmanuel Macron made a firm and strong decision to slash Algeria’s share of the French (“Schengen”) visas in 2019, in a bid to curb the phenomenon of illegal immigration, a burning issue that was dealt with extensively by “Echorouk” on December 6, 2020.