France's parliament has decided it is no longer a crime to help illegal immigrants, throwing out a rule that aid groups had long criticized.
The rule had been aimed at punishing traffickers who take money from would-be immigrants to secure illegal passage to France. But associations that help feed or house illegal immigrants, often from troubled or impoverished countries, said it had unfairly punished those who just want to help the needy.
The National Assembly approved a new immigration law early Wednesday that annuls a 1991 article making it a crime to help immigrants illegally enter or stay in France. It is still a crime to profit financially from illegal immigration.
The new law, championed by the Socialist government, also limits and clarifies police powers to detain suspected illegal immigrants.