France plans to halt migrants

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The Independent Online
PARIS (Reuter) - France's new centre-right government plans to halt immigration, the Interior Minister, Charles Pasqua, said in an interview published yesterday. 'Because of the seriousness of our economic situation, the target we aim for is 'zero immigration',' Mr Pasqua told Le Monde. 'Obviously the idea of 'zero immigrants' is impossible because our economy may need this or that category of foreign workers, but no new immigration is what we would like.

'France was an immigrant-receiving country but no longer wants to be one because it can no longer afford to,' Mr Pasqua declared, adding that political refugees would continue to be welcome. He spoke a day before the cabinet was due to discuss a proposed law making entry into France more difficult for would- be immigrants.

Parliament has already moved to tighten nationality laws in spite of protests by human rights groups, who say the new rules are aimed against immigrants from North Africa or sub-Saharan Africa who make up more than half the foreigners in France.

Before its overwhelming victory over the Socialists in the March general election, the centre-right pledged to halt immigration at a time of unemployment affecting 3.1 million people or about one-tenth of the work force. There are more than 4 million foreigners legally resident in France and an average of 100,000 have continued to enter the country legally each year for the past 10 years.

Many Frenchmen say a general rise in petty street crime and drugs-dealing is largely due to illegal immigrants.