France Misses Target For Deporting Immigrants

France misses target for deporting immigrants

France fell just short of a controversial target to deport 25,000 illegal immigrants in 2007

PARIS, January 8, 2008 (AFP) – France fell just short of a controversial target to deport 25,000 illegal immigrants in 2007, according to figures released Monday by Immigration Minister Brice Hortefeux.

French authorities deported between 23,000 and 24,000 immigrants, Hortefeux told France Info radio, as part of a clampdown on illegal migration first launched when President Nicolas Sarkozy was interior minister.

“The final figures are not yet known but we are in the same region (as last in 2006), between 23,000 and 24,000,” said Hortefeux.

He said the shortfall was explained in part by the entry of Romania and Bulgaria in 2007 in the European Union, ending the deportation of Roma who used to make up about 30 percent of all illegal foreigners deported from France.

Between 200,000 and 400,000 illegal foreigners are currently living in France.

Amnesty International and other rights groups have protested against the government campaign to meet deportation quotas, saying many of those targeted were well integrated into French society.

Protests have regularly erupted over the use of commercial flights for deportations, while rights groups have also questioned the conditions in which hundreds of illegal immigrants are detained pending deportation.

Hortefeux strongly denied accusations of a violent “manhunt” against migrants.

The French parliament in October approved a new immigration bill that tightens the rules under which foreigners can join family members in France, including bringing in DNA tests for them to prove their kinship.

The bill stipulates newcomers must pass a French language test and that a foreigner living in France must show that he has the means to support family members.