French Prime Minister has declared his support for a series of measures that would tighten the number of immigrants allowed into the country, including the possibility of introducing immigration quotas.
“Today, the French asylum system is saturated,” Philippe said in his opening remarks before the National Assembly.
“The question of being steered by targets and admissions for residency is not a taboo. I’m not afraid of thinking about the idea of quotas.”
Citing government figures Philippe said that France saw a twenty two percent increase in asylum applications in 2018, whereas the rest of Europe recorded a 10-percent decrease.
In 2017, more than 100,000 people had requested asylum in the country, although it was unclear how many were eventually accepted.
Philippe also questioned the controversial state-funded healthcare programme, Aide Medicale dEtat (AME) for covering of undocumented workers.
Introduced under the socialist government of Lionel Jospin in 2000, AME currently provides benefits for around Three Hundreds thousands people and costs the state one billion euros ($1.1bn) a year.
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“France should take care of all those who live in its territory,” Philippe said. “But it should be neither more, nor less attractive than its neighbours.”
Philippe said the government should also review the terms for family reunifications visas which enable spouses and children under the age of 18 who already have a parent living in France to apply for one. Under the scheme about ninty thousands migrants a year get in under that scheme.
The debate, which also included remarks from France’s Foreign, Interior and Health ministers comes just weeks after French President announced a tougher stance on immigration.
“France cannot host everyone if it wants to host people well,” Macron told French radio station Europe 1 in September.
Macron’s shift to the right has drawn criticism from his political opponents. Some have also questioned his timing and motives in advance of the upcoming 2020 municipal elections.
“It’s a little surprising that Macron decided to put this question on the table when actually the main questions of today are much more about social issues, pensions and unemployment,” Bruno Cautres, a political science researcher Said.
“So we are all wondering why Macron is deciding to do this right now.”
Marine Le Pen, the leader of France’s far-right National Front party, accused Macron of “using immigration as an electoral element he pulls out his hat a few weeks before elections because he thinks it will attract French who see the reality in front of them.”
Immigration reform is need of time french Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said.