France expels record number of illegal immigrants

PTI Paris | Updated on November 15, 2017 Published on January 11, 2012

The French President, Mr Nicolas Sarkozy’s government has made a play for the anti-immigrant voters who may determine whether he wins a second term, saying today that France had booted out more illegal migrants in the past year than ever before.

Sarkozy’s interior minister added that he wants thousands more expelled this year, along with fewer foreigners legally living in France. Anyone who wants to stay, he added, must shed the traditions that contradict French values.

The conservative president is unpopular and facing a tough challenge from the left and the resurgent far right in presidential elections to be held in April and May in an increasingly diverse France. Mr Sarkozy has not formally declared his candidacy but is widely expected to run.

The Interior Minister, Mr Claude Gueant, lauded the government’s record, saying French authorities expelled 32,912 illegal immigrants in 2011, up 17.5 per cent from 2010.

“This result is 5,000 higher than the initial objective decided upon at the start of the year. It is the highest result ever achieved,” he said. The Government wants the figure to rise to 35,000 this year, he added.

Echoing one of Mr Sarkozy’s favoured themes, Mr Gueant said immigrants must better integrate.

“We reject ... cloistered lives lived along ethnic and religious grounds, those that live by their own laws,” Mr Gueant told presspersons. “The foreigners that we welcome here must integrate themselves. It is up to them to adapt to us, not the other way around.”

The majority of immigrants come to France legally, though the number of new arrivals is shrinking and Mr Gueant wants to reduce it further. The number of residency permits issued last year shrank 3.6 per cent to 182,595, he said.

Published on January 11, 2012
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