Challenges in Immigration Control: Resources and Normative Stability Concerns

A lack of human resources and consistency. This is what the Court of Auditors thinks of policies to combat illegal immigration in France, according to a report published on Thursday January 4. It was initially supposed to be presented in December, but in order not to fall in the middle of the debates on the immigration law in the Assembly, its publication had been postponed. It still risks making noise as it takes on a more political dimension than the others, just after the adoption of the law in Parliament and before the Constitutional Council decides on the text.

The Court of Auditors therefore denounces a “normative instability” which complicates the work of administrations and courts. She points in particular to the 133 changes to the law in a decade, the propensity of Interior Ministers to multiply circulars “according to current events”.

More human resources

In this report, the Court of Auditors makes eleven recommendations, which concern in particular the strengthening of human resources for these missions, which it considers insufficient. Above all, it is necessary to strengthen the staff in the prefectures, explains the report, which therefore recommends “strengthening the staff of the services responsible for foreigners in the prefecture, in order to improve the quality of decisions and ensure the systematic representation of the State at the hearings before the judicial judge and the administrative judge.” The prefectures do not have enough time to work on the OQTFs, the obligations to leave French territory, and must themselves obtain consular passes for expulsions. This should be centralized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs which would have more weight, says the report.

According to the Court, resources are also needed for border controls which are “very limited”. Identity documents are not scanned and fingerprints are not taken, according to the Court of Auditors, even though this would be “useful later for removal” if the person finally succeeds in crossing the border. The report therefore recommends “collecting and retaining the identity data of foreigners intercepted when they irregularly cross internal and external borders”.

Simplify certain procedures

The Court of Auditors also calls for a relaxation of the voluntary return assistance system. This system “aims to encourage the departure of a foreign person in an irregular situation in a non-coercive manner, by paying him a sum of money of up to 2,500 euros”, recalls the Court, which relates this figure to two others: “the cost of one day of detention amounts to 602 euros while an effective forced removal costs on average 4,414 euros”.

France should therefore develop this system by taking inspiration from other countries because it “is lagging behind the United Kingdom and Germany”. 4,479 assisted returns were carried out in 2022 in France compared to 26,545 in Germany, according to figures communicated by the Court of Auditors.

Finally, the Court considers that it is necessary to “simplify the expulsion dispute by reducing the number of judicial procedures and by distinguishing them according to the real degree of urgency”, and also calls for the “formalization of an interministerial strategy of fight against irregular immigration” whose implementation would be monitored by “an interministerial body” under the authority of the Prime Minister.

This article is originally published on

Beth Malcolm

Beth Malcolm is Scottish based Journalist at Heriot-Watt University studying French and British Sign Language. She is originally from the north west of England but is living in Edinburgh to complete her studies.