The 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen established natural and inalienable rights not only for French citizens but also for all of humanity. This historic commitment to fundamental rights and liberties notwithstanding, immigrants without legal documents living in France (sans-papiers) often do not benefit from some of these most basic guarantees. In 2007, a Commission charged with modernizing and reforming the institutions of the Fifth Republic proposed amending the Constitution to allow individuals to argue that the law, as applied in their case, does not conform to the rights and liberties recognized by the Constitution. By December 2009, a constitutional revision law and an institutional act had combined to grant the Constitutional Council a striking new power: the ability to review laws after promulgation and to assess their conformity with the Constitution. This recent evolution may provide the basis for constitutional challenges to the restrictive legislation sanspapiers now endure.
Emily B. Kanstroom,
Sans-Papiers, Sans Recourse? Challenging Recent Immigration Laws in France,
B.C. Int'l & Comp. L. Rev.