'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.Reuse content