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Macron signals tougher line on immigration

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

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PARIS, France (AFP) — With an eye on re-election, France's Emmanuel Macron has signalled a tougher line on immigration, arguing that the Government must end its “lax” approach to prevent voters from drifting to the far right.

Setting out his priorities for the second half of his mandate on Monday evening, Macron said that his centrist Republic on the Move (LREM) party risked being seen as “bourgeois” unless it tackled the issue of immigration.

“By claiming to be humanist we are sometimes too lax,” he told a meeting of his ministers and ruling party representatives, claiming that France's asylum laws were being “misused” by people-smuggling networks and “people who manipulate” the system.

The question for his three-year-old party, which has struggled to establish a presence in small-town and rural France, was “whether we want to be a bourgeois party or not”, Macron was quoted by party members as telling the meeting.

“The bourgeois have no problem with this (immigration). They don't come up against it. The working classes live with it. For decades the left didn't want to deal with this problem so the working class migrated to the far right.”

“We're like the three little monkeys; we don't want to see,” he said, referring to the “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” dictum represented by three monkeys with their hands over their eyes, ears and mouth.

On Tuesday, 15 lawmakers from Macron's party appealed against “creating hysteria” about migration and in an open letter to the prime minister and interior minister urged that state medical aid benefitting “some 300,000 foreigners without papers or living precariously” be maintained.

An Ispos/Sopra Steria poll on divisions in French society published Tuesday showed that 63 per cent of respondents felt there were “too many foreigners in France”.

Anti-foreigner sentiment was strongest among working-class respondents, with 88 per cent saying there were too many immigrants.

Sixty-six per cent also said they felt that immigrants did not try hard enough to integrate.


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