Pasqua in new war on immigrants

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The Independent Online
CHARLES PASQUA, the French Interior Minister, has picked one of the country's toughest police chiefs to run a new agency to fight illegal immigration.

Mr Pasqua, a Gaullist, said Robert Broussard would head the new Central Directorate for Immigration Control, scheduled to start work on 15 January. Mr Broussard, a prefet de police, has previously been put in charge of operations against Corsican nationalists, organised crime and terrorism. Often criticised and disowned by his political bosses, he has a tendency to disappear, only to re-enter the limelight every few years. Never politically correct, he is simultaneously loathed, feared and admired for being uncompromising towards his adversaries.

As Mr Pasqua announced Mr Broussard's latest incarnation, he told a television interviewer that the government was obliged 'to take coercive and administrative measures' against illegal immigration.

With six land frontiers and three coasts, France is particularly vulnerable to illegal immigration. The fears have become particularly acute since the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in Algeria, prompting talk of 'boat people' from France's former North African colonies.

The conservative coalition elected last March promised a tough attitude on immigration and Mr Pasqua and his colleagues have brought in new laws on immigration, political asylum and French nationality to tighten up procedures. 'Once we have sent back several planeloads or boatloads of immigrants,' he said, 'the world will get the message.'

Mr Pasqua's use, when he was interior minister in 1986, of a charter plane to take 101 Malians home made such talk virtually taboo. It was revived in 1991 by Edith Cresson, the then Socialist Prime Minister, who suggested the use of special flights to expel illegal immigrants. Such was the outrage against her statement that the idea was again dropped.

As well as Third World immigration, France is prey to immigration from central and east Europe. Mr Pasqua said France could 'not take on the misery of the whole world'. If civil war developed in eastern Europe, France would suffer 'a new wave of immigration'. To the south, meanwhile, 'by the end of the decade there will be 130 million North Africans, including nearly 60 million under 20, with no prospects and, further south, 1 billion other Africans'.

Mr Pasqua acknowledged that tough measures alone were not enough and said France should lead 'a development crusade' in the Third World. He suggested a figure of one per cent of gross domestic product.

Over the first 10 months of last year, 568 people were deported from France, a 21 per cent increase over the previous year. With 4.1 million foreigners living in a country of 57 million people, immigration is popularly seen as a prime cause for unemployment which is running at just over 3 million.

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