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France interior minister proposes stricter immigration laws

[JURIST] French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy [official profile, in French; BBC profile] on Tuesday announced proposed new immigration laws [Le Monde summary, in French] that would enable the government to be more selective in allowing newcomers into the country and deciding who can stay, even giving it the right to expel immigrants who do not make efforts to integrate and seek work. Sarkozy's "selected immigration" scheme will be presented to the cabinet Thursday. Under it, a point system will be created to rank potential immigrants based on country of origin and area of work or study. The law would also require illegal immigrants to wait three years after marrying a French citizen before gaining residency status, rather than 18 months.

The proposal has already been criticized by immigration rights groups, including France Terre d'Asile [advocacy website, in French; news release] and by opponents of Sarkozy. Immigration [JURIST news archive] is expected to be a central issue in upcoming presidential elections in France, especially in light of the riots started by immigrant youths [JURIST report] last fall, and Sarkozy is a leading candidate. The Telegraph has more.

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