At an immigration conference on Thursday, the UMP will discuss 23 proposals on toughening up immigration requirements in France, including instituting a “point system” for would-be newcomers, tying welfare benefits to successful integration and tightening rules on visas.
“We have to separate ideology from the issue of immigration,” said Jean-François Copé, secretary-general of the UMP, while presenting the proposals to the press on Wednesday.
The centre-right party of French President Nicolas Sarkozy would like to lengthen the amount of time immigrants can be held in administrative detention from 45 days to two months, and to increase the capacity of such detention facilities.
The UMP also wants to make social service benefits for immigrants conditional on school attendance or the successful completion of integration programs and “to reinforce existing sanctions in cases where agreements are not respected.”
The immigration proposals also include strictly limiting instances of giving legal status to undocumented immigrants to “exceptional cases,” such as those involving illness, humanitarian concerns or families that have “completely assimilated.”
According to the French office of immigration, in 2010 France received 188,780 legal immigrants, a 10.6 percent increase over 2009.
Regarding immigration of workers and professionals, the party backs holding a national conference every two years to discuss the country’s work force needs. The UMP would like to experiment with a point system, along Canadian lines, that would rank would-be newcomers according to criteria such as education, French language ability, age, and work experience.
Illegal immigration is a key concern for the conservatives, and it would like to see a more restrictive visa system put into place, especially on the European level.
To discourage immigrants from staying in France after their visas expire, the UMP would like to charge a “return deposit” on visas for cases that are considered “risky.” The deposit would only be returned after the individual has moved back to his or her country of residence.