Young migrants in the northern French port city of Calais. Photo: Picture alliance
Young migrants in the northern French port city of Calais. Photo: Picture alliance

France has introduced a new law that allows gendarme, police and customs officers to carry out random identity checks at, and near, the country’s border port facilities. Depending on the legal status of the migrants intercepted, they are then transferred to regional reception centres.

The order was signed into law on December 28 and went into force on December 30. It stipulates that anyone who is at or in the vicinity of a French border port facility can now be subject to identity checks.

According to the new law, officers have the right to control anyone who is within a 10-kilometer radius of the ports of Dunkerque and Calais, and within a 5-kilometer radius of the ports of Caen-Ouistreham, Cherbourg, Dieppe, Le Havre, Marseille, Nice, Roscoff, Saint-Malo, Sète and Toulon. Some highway sections near these ports are also considered to be within the new control zones.

Prior to the introduction of the new law, these types of identity checks were only permitted if officers could first establish that the person subject to control had committed some act of incivility.

Migrants are photographed and fingerprinted

Now migrants have to be able to present officers with documents to prove his or her identity if they are intercepted. The migrant is then photographed and fingerprinted. Depending on the person’s legal status, they are then transferred to a regional reception centre (CAO, CAES). Minors are taken into the care of local authorities.

"The migrants are registered and it allows for authorities to follow up on them. They will no longer err around anonymously," Christophe Blanchet told InfoMigrants. The centre-right parliamentarian from Calvados supports the new law. 

According to Blanchet, the new procedure should be viewed as a measure to protect migrants rather than an effort to control them. "I can’t stand seeing people sleep outside when there are places available in reception centres," he said. "On top of that, migrants are victims to mafia networks, and we have to get them out of them."


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