France wants African help to fight illegal immigration

30th August 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Aug 30, 2007 (AFP) - France wants to clinch agreements on curbing immigration with some 20 African countries by the end of 2009, Immigration Minister Brice Hortefeux said Wednesday.

PARIS, Aug 30, 2007 (AFP) - France wants to clinch agreements on curbing immigration with some 20 African countries by the end of 2009, Immigration Minister Brice Hortefeux said Wednesday.

An agreement is currently under negotation with Congo Republic and "in the coming months I will begin discussions with other countries," Hortefeux told a conference of French ambassadors in Paris.

"We expect there to be some 20 countries involved by the end of 2009," he added.

France has signed immigration accords with Senegal and Gabon that provide for French assistance to help the countries monitor their borders in exchange for their cooperation in repatriating illegal migrants.

President Nicolas Sarkzoy has long been an advocate of immigration controls, deporting some 25,000 foreigners per year while he was interior minister and refusing to grant a blanket amnesty to illegal residents.

The president, who took office in May, told a cabinet meeting on Wednesday that he wanted to open a debate on immigration quotas.

"It's not an issue of setting quotas for the number of immigrants from Africa, the Arab world or Asia," government spokesman Laurent Wauquiez quoted Sarkozy as telling ministers.  

"It is a legitimate question: How many farm workers, engineers, computer experts and technicians do we want?" he said.

France plans to make immigration a priority when it takes over the presidency of the 27-nation European Union in July 2008.

In his remarks to the ambassadorial corps, Hortefeux said France was pushing for a European immigration pact to bolster cooperation within the European Union and stem the tide of illegal immigrants.

The pact would commit governments to step up border controls, reject amnesties for non-residents, agree to a common policy on reuniting families of foreigners and on keeping illegal migrants out of Europe.

"We must also work toward harmonizing our asylum regulations," said Hortefeux.

The minister is next month to present to parliament a new bill that will make it harder for the families of immigrants to be reunited.

Under the measure, family members will have to undergo a French language test and agree to a two-month language course before receiving a residency permit.

AFP

Subject: French news

0 Comments To This Article