Villepin backs tougher French immigration rules

29th November 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Nov 29 (AFP) - Prime minister Dominique de Villepin on Tuesday announced plans to toughen entry criteria for the families of immigrants seeking to join their relatives in France.

PARIS, Nov 29 (AFP) - Prime minister Dominique de Villepin on Tuesday announced plans to toughen entry criteria for the families of immigrants seeking to join their relatives in France.

Villepin told a press conference that it would be "more reasonable" for new arrivals to be asked to wait longer -- two years instead of the current one -- before bringing their families into the country.

Speaking following a meeting of a government committee on immigration, Villepin also called for so-called integration courses for immigrants to be "extended, then made compulsory".

Interior minister Nicolas Sarkozy has been asked to submit recommendations on the issue to the government in February, he added.

The hardening of French policy comes weeks after an outbreak of rioting in high-immigration French suburbs that threw the spotlight on France's mixed record of integrating its immigrant minorities and their French-born children into mainstream society.

Villepin argued that only people deemed to have properly settled in France should be able to bring their families into the country.

"Integration into our society, notably the command of the French language, should be a condition for bringing in one's family," he said.

He also said the authorities should "have the means to uphold the law forbidding polygamy in France".

Controversial claims were made in the wake of the riots -- including by employment minister Gérard Larcher -- that large, polygamous families were partly to blame for a breakdown of parental authority in the suburbs affected.

According to figures quoted by the prime minister, family reunification accounted for 25,000 entries to France in 2004.

Villepin stressed that the government was not questioning the right to family reunification, which is guaranteed under both the French constitution and international conventions.

"This is not about questioning (that right), but about organising it in a better way to facilitate the integration of the people concerned," he said.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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