Sky News, December 8, 2016
The National Front leader and 2017 presidential candidate said they should be refused places in public schools as part of tough proposals to restrict state services.
“I’ve got nothing against foreigners but I say to them: if you come to our country, don’t expect that you will be taken care of and that your children will be educated for free,” she told a meeting in Paris.
“That’s finished now, it’s the end of playtime.”
Ms. Le Pen is tipped in the latest opinion polls to finish second in next year’s presidential election, narrowly behind the centre-right candidate Francois Fillon.
But she is hoping to cash in on the current unpredictability of politics, epitomised by Donald Trump’s success in the US presidential election.
While later clarifying she was referring to illegal immigrants only, Ms. Le Pen said any foreigner using the public education system without paying tax in France should have to contribute.
“We’re going to reserve our efforts and our national solidarity for the most humble, the most modest and the most poor among us,” she said.
Ms. Le Pen wants France to withdraw from the eurozone and has called for a referendum on France’s membership of the European Union.
Mr. Fillon is also taking a hard line on immigration, promising to reduce it to a “strict minimum” and calling on newcomers to adapt to French culture.
He has insisted that France must defend its traditions, language and identity, and has rejected the idea of multiculturalism.
The Socialists will hold their own primary elections to select a presidential candidate next month.
Free primary education is a basic right for all children under French law dating back to 1881.
The right to education is also a fundamental part of the European Convention on Human Rights.