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Sarkozy causes rift over immigration comments

Reuters/Philippe Wojazer

France’s left have called President Nicolas Sarkozy’s most recent comments about immigration incoherent and humiliating. During a program on France 2 television on Tuesday night, Sarkozy spoke about tightening immigration laws to reduce the number of foreigners in France.


Speaking on the program, “Des paroles et des actes,” Sarkozy said he wanted to impose stricter laws on cross-nationality marriage and cut the number of foreigners in the country from 180,000 to 100,000.

He also spoke about restricting the amount of social aide to foreigners, based on presence in the country and participation in the labour market.

Green party politician Daniel Cohn-Bendit said on Canal + that he had trouble sleeping following Sarkozy’s comments.

“I didn’t sleep well last night. This morning, I still don’t feel well because [Sarkozy] has said something that has struck me personally: He said, ‘you are one person too many.’”

Cohn-Bendit, who is of German nationality, said the comments were dangerous and an attempt to scapegoat certain communities in a time of economic crisis.

Sarkozy affirmed during the program that he wanted to make visas for foreigners married to French citizens more difficult to receive, with more demands on paperwork regarding housing and revenue. He hoped to reduce numbers from 25,000 to 15,000 per year.

Socialist presidential candidate François Hollande criticised the President on Europe 1 on Wednesday, saying that tighter marital laws would simply multiply the number of appeals each year.

“European rights, just as with international rights, make it mandatory that when you are married, you must live together.”

He said reforms would threaten the concept of family, but added that he was in favour of reducing the number of fraudulent marriages in the country.

Hollande also responded to accusations that if he were elected president, immigration figures would soar. He said that in reality, the number of foreigners receiving visas would probably hover around 30,000 per year as they do now, and that each dossier would be looked at “case by case.”




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