France will revoke birthright citizenship in its Indian Ocean department of Mayotte in a bid to curb a migration crisis that sparked weeks of protests, the country’s interior minister said.
Gérald Darmanin announced the “strong, clear and radical” move to reporters on the airport tarmac shortly after flying into Mayotte on Sunday morning.
“It will no longer be possible to become French if you are not yourself the child of French parents,” Mr Darmanin said.
He said the measure, which would involve controversial amendments to the Constitution, is aimed at “literally cutting off the attractiveness” of Mayotte and eliminating the possibility of obtaining French citizenship through immigration, be it legal or illegal.
He said the reform will not be applied anywhere else in France, citing “exceptional situations” that call for “exceptional measures”.
Decades of social unrest, poverty, crime and insecurity have been exacerbated by a major water shortage as well as an influx of illegal immigrants fleeing poverty from the neighbouring island nation of the Comoros.
Nearly half of Mayotte’s 310,000 residents are immigrants from the Comoros or other African countries.
Over the last three weeks, activists have protested on the streets and erected barricades in opposition to the migration crisis and living conditions.
Territorialised visas to be scrapped
One of the protesters’ long-standing demands has also been to eliminate the territorialised visa, a residence permit that prohibits holders from travelling to mainland France or another French department and restricts their movement to within Mayotte.
The visas are specific to Mayotte. Mr Darmanin announced that territorialised visas will be scrapped.
“Since we will have far fewer residence permits, and since we will no longer have the possibility of being French when we come to Mayotte, territorialised visas will no longer be necessary,” he said.
Birthright citizenship rules in Mayotte changed in 2018 when France introduced a rule requiring at least one foreign-born parent to have lived in Mayotte for more than three months before the child’s birth in order for the child to qualify for French nationality.
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