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France parliament debates stricter immigration measures

[JURIST] France's National Assembly [official website, in French], the lower house of the French parliament, Tuesday debated [transcript, in French] a new immigration bill [dossier and materials, in French] proposing tightened requirements for foreigners seeking to join immigrant relatives in France. The bill comes after a campaign promise by French President Nicolas Sarkozy [official profile] to toughen the country's immigration policy, a move already begun by the introduction of deportation quotas seeking to expel 25,000 illegal immigrants in 2007. Under the terms of the new bill, applicants over the age of 16 seeking to join immigrant family members already in France would be required to prove French language competency and financial security. If the petition is questioned by immigration officers, applicants would be asked to take voluntary DNA tests to prove their biological relationship to French residents. Despite opposition from civil rights groups and members of his own party, Sarkozy believes the bill will greatly increase the proportion of skilled workers in France. The bill is expected to be passed in the lower house this week, and will be debated in the Senate [official website] next month.

Prior to assuming the presidency [JURIST report], Sarkozy also took a tough stance on immigration while serving as interior minister. In February 2006, he proposed legislation [JURIST report] to enable the government to expel immigrants who did not make sufficient efforts to integrate in French society and seek work. In June 2006, the French parliament passed a conservative immigration bill [JURIST report] that tightened restrictions on unskilled, non-EU immigrants and required immigrants to sign a pledge to learn French and to abide by French law. In September 2006, Sarkozy announced that France had granted amnesty [JURIST report] to 6,924 illegal immigrants with school-age children, even though thousands more had applied. The move was criticized as "totally arbitrary" - an assertion that Sarkozy denied. CBC News has more. BBC News has additional coverage.

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