Entry into France is expected to get tougher, for the France's interior minister Claude Gueant plans to get stricter with immigration norms. Gueant has disclosed that the country extradited a record 33,000 illegal immigrants in 2011. The minister added that he wanted to see this number, already a 17.5 per cent rise from 2010, reach 35,000 in 2012.
Although citizens of the EU do not require a French visa to enter France but non-EU citizens do need one. Less than 200,000 non EU citizens were granted visas in 2011, a 3.6 per cent reduction from the year before.
As per a report in the Worldwide Visa Bureau, French immigration policy has always attracted much attention and Gueant is seen as a tyrant on immigration matters. He said that the foreigners they welcome here must integrate themselves. It is up to the immigrants to adapt to them, not the other way round.
With the French election fast approaching, some analysts have claimed this declaration is simply a move for incumbent president Nicolas Sarkozy to secure precious support from anti-immigration voters.
France famously banned Islamic face veils in 2010 on the grounds of supporting women's freedoms, although critics claimed the law stigmatised Muslim communities. Gueant added "We reject cloistered lives lived along ethnic and religious grounds, those that live by their own laws".
Gueant, believed to be a close ally of French President Nicolas Sarkozy, also vowed to reduce legal migration, stating "what is at stake is the cohesion and the equilibrium of our society and our ability to maintain our tradition of welcoming migrants".
The French president Sarkozy remains unpopular due to his conservative leanings and. The challenge he is facing from left wing socialist candidate François Hollande will certainly be tough, Sarkozy also has plenty of critics on the right of the political spectrum.