The majority of British and French people polled -- almost seven out of 10 in France -- favored closing the borders of the European Union to prevent migrant workers from entering there illegally, according to the results of a French Institute of Public Opinion (IFOP) poll exclusively published by the French newspaper Le Figaro.
Respondents were specifically asked about dissolving the Schengen area, a 26-country zone in Europe where people can move about freely between nations without visas. Many migrants travel between those countries in search of work.
The IFOP-Le Figaro poll was published amid heated debate in France about the plight of migrant workers after hundreds of African asylum-seekers were turned away from France's border and returned to Italy June 15.
Among the respondents polled in five countries -- France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands and the U.K. -- those in France and the U.K. were most in favor of doing away with the accord underlying the Schengen area, 67 percent in France and 63 percent in the U.K.
Focusing on African migrant workers, the pollsters asked respondents whether they believed state money would be best spent on reinforcing existing borders to keep them out, helping in the development of the countries where they originate or creating more programs within European nations to welcome them. Most in favor of state spending on tightening borders to prevent migration were the British, 47 percent, and the French, 36 percent.
The anti-immigration movement in France has garnered support in the past year, with the anti-immigration National Front winning the second-most seats in local elections in March, behind only former President Nicolas Sarkozy's center-right Union for a Popular Movement.
The IFOP-Le Figaro poll covered between 995 and 1,002 people per country (5,996 in all). Its margin of error was unclear.