While Algeria and France are going through a diplomatic crisis against the backdrop of a policy of memorial reconciliation, tensions are now crystallizing around the issue of illegal immigration.
The tension has increased since Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune on Sunday (October 10) denounced the “Big lie” by the French Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin, on the number of obligations to leave French territory (OQTF) pronounced against Algerian nationals. Mr. Darmanin maintained that 7,730 OQTF had been pronounced since January. What the Algerian head of state contested: “There have never been 7,000 [clandestins algériens], this is completely wrong ”.
What is an OQTF?
In France, foreigners in an irregular situation may be subject to various expulsion measures. Since the so-called “Besson” law of 2011, the obligation to leave French territory (OQTF) is one of the most widely used procedures. This is an administrative decision, enforceable for a period of one year, taken by the prefecture, to expel a foreign national from French territory to his country of origin.
According to the code of entry and stay of foreigners and the right of asylum (Ceseda), OQTFs may concern:
- a foreigner who entered France illegally without a valid residence permit;
- a foreigner who stays in France beyond the validity of his visa;
- a foreigner who suffers a refusal to issue or renew his residence permit, etc.
However, these “expulsion” decisions can be appealed to the courts and not all people targeted by an OQTF are placed in a detention center or forcibly expelled; some may leave spontaneously or benefit from return assistance.
Before returning a foreigner to the border, the authorities must determine his nationality. When he has a passport, it’s simple. But if he does not have an identity document, or if it appears fraudulent, the French authorities are obliged to obtain a consular laissez-passer (LPC) from the country of origin to have the deportation carried out at the border. .
In the absence of a passport or a pass, boarding an international flight is not possible, ensures Cimade, an association supporting migrants, which specifies that “LPC requests are mostly made for people placed in detention centers to be returned outside the European Union”.
What is the object of the disagreement between Paris and Algiers?
The French government announced on September 28 a drastic reduction of 50% in the number of visas granted to Algerian nationals. To justify this measure, he denounced Algeria’s lack of cooperation in the application of OQTFs and in the issuance of consular passes which allow immigrants to be returned to their country of origin.
This decision is linked to the goal set by Emmanuel Macron in 2019 to see 100% of OQTFs executed by the end of his mandate. Government spokesman Gabriel Attal wishes “Push the countries concerned to change their policy and agree to issue these consular passes”.
According to figures from the Ministry of the Interior, between January and July 2021, the courts ordered 7,731 OQTFs, but only 22 Algerian nationals were effectively deported. The interior ministry emphasized that France had only been able to expel 0.3% of OQTFs. Understand: Algeria would refuse to grant consular passes, slowing down expulsions already made difficult by the health crisis and border closures.
On the Algerian side, President Tebboune rejects this figure of « 7 000 », and speaks only of a list of “94 cases”.
What is it really ?
Contacted by The world, the Ministry of the Interior confirms having sent between January and July 2021 requests for consular laissez-passer for 97 ultra-priority people (and not 94, as stated by Mr. Tebboune) in an irregular situation registered in the file of alerts for prevention of terrorist radicalization (FSPRT).
But the representative of Place Beauvau insists on the fact that other requests have been made to the Algerian authorities for specific profiles, to be expelled as a matter of priority, in particular people coming out of prison (drug trafficking, crimes, etc.).
In total, according to Mr. Darmanin’s services, 597 LPC requests concerning people placed in detention and to be deported were made between January and July. Of these, Algeria has issued only 31, or 5%, notes the Ministry of the Interior. To support the lack of consular cooperation, the ministry insists that the rate of obtaining passes requested from Algeria was 56.3% in 2019 and 34% between January and August 2020.
In summary, the Ministry of the Interior maintains the confusion between the number of OQTFs pronounced by the prefectures and the number of requests addressed to Algeria so that it recovers its nationals.
While there were indeed nearly 7,300 illegal Algerians targeted by such a procedure, France did not formulate ” that “ 597 requests in Algiers between January and July 2021. A rate of 5% which remains too low for the French government, and which justifies, according to him, the drastic reduction of visa requests granted for Algeria.