France tightens immigrant policy
France adopted tough measures against illegal immigration Thursday to help stem a rise in racism and the steady growth of a foreign population of 4.5 million.
Announced by Immigration Minister Georgina Dufoix after a Cabinet meeting, the measures include stiff fines for employers of illegal aliens, tight border controls, and the rapid expulsion of illegal immigrants.
The government also plans to make life easier for legal immigrants, cutting red tape for residency and such welfare programs as low-cost housing. The immigrant problem has embarrassed the Socialist administration, caught between its humanitarian reputation and the realities of economic problems and unemployment.
''Without our immigrants, France would not have the economic force it enjoys today,'' the minister said. But she stressed the government's determination to apply the letter of the law to keep out new immigration workers and punish their employers.
The measures follow a summer of violence in which a 10-year-old Algerian boy died and several immigrants were wounded in shooting and stabbing incidents across France. The rise in anti-immigrant feeling coincides with an economic crisis that has squeezed jobs and living standards and strained the political fabric of France.
The Socialists granted legal status to more than 130,000 secret immigrants after coming to power in 1981. But the immigration minister said that phase is now over.