The French parliament has approved a controversial bill tightening immigration rules for those wanting to join their relatives in France. The measure, introducing DNA testing, easily cleared the lower house. It now goes to the Senate. Defending the immigration bill, the head of the ruling UMP group in the National Assembly, Jean-Francois Cope, said: “I understand it is an impassioned debate. But let’s not make a drama out of it because these are debates in which the French people expect action and results and that is what we are working on.”
Belgium is one of several EU countries to have already introduced DNA tests to prove family ties. They are often used by would-be immigrants to bolster their applications when crucial documents are missing. Living in Belgium, Joseph from the Democratic Republic of Congo wanted his son and daughter to come from Africa to join him. But their birth certificates had disappeared.
While DNA proved his daughter’s biological link, he was horrified to learn – through a test – that the boy he had watched grow up was not in fact his son. In France, the government has stressed DNA tests will be voluntary in a measure seen as experimental, until 2010. The new rules also introduce the evaluation of potential immigrants’ knowledge of the French language.