France's President, Nicolas Sarkozy, believes there are too many foreigners in France.
In a France 2 televised interview on Tuesday, the French president, who is up for re-election, expressed his disappointment in the country's ineffective integration system and the consequent need to scale down the number of immigrants entering the country.
We have too many strangers on our territory. We are unable to accommodate them with a job, schooling, or housing. Our system risks becoming paralyzed, turning into a ghetto, said Sarkozy.
To jump-start the integration system, Sarkozy suggested halving the number of immigrant entries from 180,000 to about 100,000 entries per year.
This proposal is an even deeper cut than the French Minister of Interior, Claude Gueant, proposed earlier this year. Gueant announced that the administration wished to cut back entries from 180,000 to 150,000.
Sarkozy additionally told the French people that he hopes to restrict access to the RSA, France's welfare system, and minimum pension by enforcing conditions of French residency and work activity levels.
These conditions will specifically be 10 years of presence on the French territory and 5 years of work activity to benefit from the RSA, Sarkozy said. However, the president did say that he does not plan to eliminate public health care to foreigners.
According to Sarkozy, 165,000 foreigners benefit from the RSA and 20,000 receive minimum pension.
Sarkozy's hardline talk on immigration is aimed at far-right voters. Lagging behind Socialist candidate, Francois Hollande, Sarkozy hopes to steal some National Front supporters from third-in-the-running presidential candidate, Marine Le Pen.
Hollande's position on legal immigration is the most liberal. Le Pen, on the other hand, finds herself in the extreme. She suggests cutting the number of foreign entries to 10,000 annually in just 5 years, eliminating family reunion-based immigration, reducing the amount of asylum requests, and expelling foreigners who were criminally convicted, according to Le Parisien.
Although less stringent than Le Pen's proposal, even Sarkozy's immigration cut seems unrealistic given the number of entries is even higher than he mentioned. At about 200,000 per year (199,715 in 2010 and 198,070 in 2009), as reported by the Le Monde, such a scale down could not be achieved without some dramatic social unrest.
Not to mention that most of France's immigration consists mostly of individuals seeking to reunite with family or asylum purposes. Work immigration reaches only 10 percent.
France has noticeably suffered from immigration problems since the 2005 riots. All over Europe, the biggest debate has been the failed integration and assimilation systems.