“Over the five year term I think that to restart the process of integration in good conditions, we must divide by two the number of people that we welcome, that's to say to pass from 180,000 per year to 100,000,” he declared.
“Our system of integration is working more and more badly, because we have too many foreigners on our territory and we can no longer manage to find them accommodation, a job, a school,” he added.
In addition to his already sweeping remarks, Sarkozy also announced new plans to place tighter restrictions on giving out welfare benefit payments currently available to the whole spectrum of immigrant workers. The plans call for the benefit payments be made available to only those who have enjoyed residency for ten years and have worked for five of those.
While he admits that immigration could remain "a boon" for France in key areas, he insists that residency qualifications for newcomers be toughened up to ensure effective control and integration of arriving immigrant workers.
Sarkozy's conservative stance on immigrants is nothing new. Indeed, France has implemented drastically tougher immigration laws since Sarkozy was elected, so much so that France’s expulsion campaign of Roma gypsies drew a deluge of criticism at home and abroad, even opening up fissures within the government and ruling conservative majority.
Critics have been quick to pounce on Sarkozy’s latest remarks anew, labeling his moves as blatant electioneering and himself a hypocrite.
Sarkozy is of Hungarian and Greek descent and has an Italian wife.