Within the framework of a project to reform the methods of the administration in 96 measures, presented in a report by Eric Woerth, the Government announced, on December 12, 2007, its intention to entrust to the prefectures, not only the constitution of naturalization application files but also the responsibility to grant or refuse French nationality. Since 1945, it is the sub-directorate of naturalizations of the Ministry of Social Affairs – decentralized in 1987 to Rézé, near Nantes – which has exercised this competence.
Under the new name of “sub-directorate of access to French nationality”, this service passed, in 2007, into the bosom of the Ministry of Immigration, Integration, National Identity and Development. Solidarity. The inclusion of “national identity” in the title of a ministry is not insignificant. Whatever the government says, this ministry is in fact in charge of defending a supposed “purity” of its “identity” that France is supposed to want to preserve. There is therefore, obviously, a contradiction between the mission of the “sub-directorate for access to French nationality” and the missions of the authority which oversees it. This is the first reason to condemn the government’s orientation in terms of reorganizing the administration of naturalizations.
The second stems from its “deconcentration” of the investigation and decision-making procedure in the prefectures. Indeed, the policy of granting French nationality had long been tainted with arbitrariness and therefore discriminatory in its results. The statistics showed in particular that the chances of the applicants were not the same – and by far – according to the origins.
What will become of this policy if it is now entrusted to the prefectures? The national management of requests will be split between 90 departments, placed in this area under the sole authority of the new supervisory ministry “of Immigration, Integration, National Identity and Co-development”. In this way, the discriminatory decisions of the central administration could be perpetuated, but also the blockages of a “number policy” extended to naturalizations, which moreover is likely to vary according to local hazards, will multiply.
The UCIJ strongly condemns the two aspects of this reform and supports the officials of the sub-directorate for access to French nationality who are fighting today to maintain a “single place of decision” in matters of naturalization and at the same time, for the sustainability of their jobs.