End of land law, “maritime iron curtain”, operation Wuambushu 2… We summarize the government’s measures for Mayotte

Accompanied by the Minister for Overseas Territories, Marie Guévenoux, Gérald Darmanin made several announcements about the fight against illegal immigration.


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Marie Guévenoux, Minister Delegate for Overseas Territories, and Gérald Darmanin, Minister of the Interior, in Paris, February 9, 2024. (DIMITAR DILKOFF / AFP)

They were awaited by the inhabitants of Mayotte mobilized since the end of January “against insecurity and illegal immigration”. Arriving in the archipelago on Sunday February 11, the Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin, and the new Minister Delegate for Overseas Territories, Marie Guévenoux, made several announcements on these themes, while the situation has deteriorated. tense in this French department of the Indian Ocean in recent weeks. Some must appear in a “emergency bill” will be presented “before summer”, according to Marie Guévenoux. He will address “questions of immigration, questions of social convergence and questions of social economy, of infrastructure as essential for the island”.

Removal of land rights, end of territorialized residence permits, establishment of a “iron Curtain” around the island… Franceinfo looks in detail at the main announcements made during this trip.

The abolition of land rights on the island

This is the strongest measure revealed by Gérald Darmanin when he got off the plane on Sunday in Mamoudzou. “We are going to take a radical decision, which is the inscription of the end of land rights in Mayotte” in a constitutional revision project, declared the Minister of the Interior. He believes that this reform “will literally cut off the attractiveness” what the Mahorais territory may have in the eyes of people trying to enter illegally, particularly from the neighboring Comoros.

“It will no longer be possible to become French if you are not yourself the child of French parents”, said Gérald Darmanin. In other words, only blood law would apply for the acquisition of French nationality for natives of Mayotte. In fact, land law was already restricted in this department compared to the rest of France, since a tightening of the rules in 2018: for a child of two foreign parents to obtain French nationality at the age of 18, they must must specifically prove that at the time of his birth, at least one of his two parents had been in a legal situation in France for more than three months.

The end of land law, limited to Mayotte, will be recorded by “a constitutional revision that the President of the Republic will choose”, assured Gérald Darmanin. Modifying the Constitution requires the President of the Republic to submit his proposed revision to the voters, by referendum, or to Parliament convened in Congress. For the text to succeed, it must receive a three-fifths majority of the votes cast by deputies and senators. For the moment, the executive has not communicated the date on which this draft revision could be presented.

The end of territorialized residence permits in Mayotte

“We will give ourselves until the next ‘Mayotte law’ to put an end to territorialized visas”, also declared Gérald Darmanin on Sunday. These territorialized residence permits are a local exception: unlike the rest of French territory, Mayotte can issue visas which allow their beneficiaries to enter the department, but not to travel to the rest of French territory.

“Mayotte, which is a territory common to the entire Republic, no longer has to experience this situation”, estimates the Minister of the Interior. This is one of the main demands of the angry movement which broke out in January. “Since we will have many fewer residence permits and we will no longer have the possibility of being French when we come to Mayotte, territorialized visas are no longer necessary”he justified.

The “immediate” application of a measure of the immigration law

Against “autonomy” of the island, seen as a “fad”, Gérald Darmanin recalled that a significant restriction on family reunification in Mayotte had been adopted in the recently promulgated immigration law. A foreign person must now be present in Mayotte for at least three years to benefit their loved ones. Moreover, “it will no longer be possible to bring your family if you do not hold a five-year residence permit.” The Minister of the Interior believes that “this will divide family reunifications by five”. This law is to“immediate application”he explained.

A “maritime iron curtain” against illegal immigration

In a video published on before his departure for Mayotte, Saturday evening, Gérald Darmanin affirmed the government’s wish to create a “iron curtain in the watersoon, which will of course prevent the passage of kwassa-kwassa”, these Comorian fishing boats which dock every day in the archipelago with migrants on board, and will stop the “irregular immigration channels”. This iron curtain will materialize by “many more means of interception [et] new radars” specified the minister, who promised that a “radical change” will be noticeable “in the very next few days” .

A Wuambushu 2 operation in preparation

Operation Wuambushu, launched with great fanfare by Gérald Darmanin last spring, with the aim of fighting unsanitary housing, illegal immigration and insecurity in Mayotte, will have a sequel. “We are going to set up Operation Wuambushu 2” announces the Minister of the Interior, with “more law enforcement and justice resources” . “Fifteen men from the GIGN” thus traveled from the metropolis to Mayotte with the two members of the government.

Will the second Wuambushu operation convince the Mahorais more than the first? Some residents met by franceinfo, members of the Forces vives de Mayotte movement, denounce the results of the first operation, last year, which failed to resolve the problems facing the island. In his video, Saturday evening, Gérald Darmanin gave a positive assessment of Wuambushu, which “gave enormous results in the destruction of bangas [un type d’habitat parfois illégal et insalubre], in the fight against irregular immigration [et] Above all against delinquency, with 60 gang leaders arrested and now convicted and incarcerated”.

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