France’s incumbent president Nicolas Sarkozy has made tough new immigration regulations the cornerstone of his re-election campaign. Interestingly, Sarkozy trails socialist candidate Francois Hollande in the polls so he must view restricting immigration as a platform that could pay off not only socially but also politically.
During a televised debate, Sarkozy said that although immigration could potentially benefit France’s economy, he wants to restrict it through more stringent residency requirements. Sarkozy’s goal is to cut the number of annual immigrants from the current 180,000 to 100,000. France’s system for integrating is, according to Sarkozy, working “worse and worse.” [Nicolas Sarkozy Says France Has Too Many Foreigners, BBC, March 7, 2012]
Sarkozy also proposes limiting some benefit payments to only immigrants who have lived in France for 10 years. Under today’s system, a legal resident can receive a fully funded government pension after five years.
Since 2005, Sarkozy has become increasingly vocal about the adverse impact on France of unassimilated immigrants. During the infamous 2005 Paris riots, Sarkozy described the perpetrators as "racaille", meaning rabble. Five years later, Sakozy authorized the deportation of hundreds of Roma Gypsies back to their native Romania and Bulgaria. The international media harshly criticized Sarkozy, whose administration had tied the gypsies to criminal activity, for racism and xenophobia. [France Deports Gypsies: Courting the Xenophobes? by Bruce Crumbly, Time, August 19, 2010]
Sarkozy’s defiance of political correctness stands in stark contrast to the U.S. political scene where most candidates tread with caution when the subject turns to immigration.
France, in general, may be more enlightened than the United States about over-immigration’s consequences. For example, France does not offer automatic birthright citizenship but requires instead that to qualify a child must have at least one parent born in France. Other European nations mandate that parents must either be natives or naturalized citizens in order to qualify children for automatic citizenship.