Macron’s Controversial Move to Eliminate Birthright Citizenship for Mayotte

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Mayotte’s constitutional reform will alter the sociopolitical landscape greatly. (Image Credit: Reuters)

In a recent development, Emmanuel Macron is set to discuss a constitutional reform eliminating the right to citizenship by birth in Mayotte, a French overseas department. This move has triggered widespread discontent, with the population expressing concerns about security issues and uncontrolled immigration.

Mayotte, located in the Indian Ocean, is the poorest French department, and its socio-economic challenges are exacerbated by its geographic proximity to the Comoros islands. With a population of 310,000 (potentially more according to regional accounts), the island is home to 48% immigrants, primarily from the Comoros and other African nations.

“The situation is complex, given Mayotte’s status as the poorest French department, coupled with the fact that 48% of its population consists of immigrants,” explains the socio-economic backdrop.

Geographically, Mayotte is a mere 70 km away from Anjouan, a Comorian island. Many immigrants arrive clandestinely on traditional fishing boats, residing in substandard conditions within makeshift settlements known as “bangas.”

“To try to stem this flow, Gérald Darmanin has decided to eliminate birthright citizenship, a measure he described as ‘extrêmement forte, nette, radicale,'” quotes Darmanin’s stance on the proposed constitutional revision.

Mayotte currently experiences significant disruptions, with ongoing blockades and protests since January 22. The government is negotiating with citizens’ collectives, hoping to reach a resolution and lift the barricades.

“It is out of the question to lift the blockades for the moment,” asserts Safina Soula, the president of one citizens’ collective, indicating the persistent resistance.

The proposed constitutional revision aims to eliminate territorialized residence permits and reduce residency permits issued in Mayotte by 90%, aligning with the recent immigration law, further tightening family reunification rules.

“The number of residence permits issued in Mayotte will decrease by 90% with these new measures,” provides data from the minister’s office, indicating the significant reduction in residency permits.

Amidst this, there is speculation about Macron resorting to a referendum to push through this controversial constitutional amendment.

“The referendum is part of what is on the table,” confirms Sabrina Agresti-Roubache, Secretary of State for Citizenship, indicating the potential consideration of a referendum.

As Macron contemplates this bold step, Mayotte’s fate hangs in the balance, caught between addressing immediate challenges and navigating the complexities of constitutional reform. The island’s future, both in terms of its sociopolitical climate and its relationship with mainland France, remains uncertain. This controversial move by Macron has also sparked debates about the delicate balance between national unity and accommodating regional disparities within the French Republic. The potential use of a referendum to implement the constitutional amendment raises questions about Macron’s approach and the political implications of such a decision, with uncertainties about parliamentary approval and broader implications for other regions within France.

Written by Imane Moumen

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