France Says Tough Immigration Policies Are Working

Gerard Bon, Reuters, June 19, 2008

Tougher immigration policies launched in President Nicolas Sarkozy’s first year in office are working, with more illegal migrants expelled and more skilled workers let in, France’s immigration minister said on Thursday.

France has said harmonising immigration policies at EU level was one of its priorities for its six-month presidency of the bloc that starts on July 1, and the ruling UMP party said the data released on Thursday should help it persuade EU partners.

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Hortefeux [Immigration Minister Brice Hortefeux] said 14,660 illegal migrants were expelled from France in the first five months of the year, up 80 percent compared with the same period in 2007.

In the 12 months to May 2008, Sarkozy’s first year in office, almost 30,000 illegal migrants were expelled, up 31 percent year-on-year, Hortefeux said.

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This year’s expulsions target is 26,000, which Hortefeux said he was confident would be reached.

Another target set by Sarkozy was to increase the proportion of economic migrants, as opposed to those arriving to join relatives, to 50 percent of new arrivals from 7 percent now.

Hortefeux said he was on course to achieve that goal, with 30,710 skilled workers allowed into the country in the 12 months to May 31, up 36 percent compared with the previous 12 months.

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