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Record number of illegal immigrants expelled

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Record number of illegal immigrants expelled
Bobby Hidy
07:03 CET+01:00

French Interior Minister Claude Guéant boasted on Tuesday that the country expelled a record number of illegal immigrants last year and vowed to significantly reduce legal immigration.

The announcement came three months ahead of a presidential election in which far-right candidate Marine Le Pen of the National Front is expected to target President Nicolas Sarkozy's immigration policies.

Guéant, a close ally of Sarkozy and well-known hardliner on immigration, said France had expelled 32,922 illegal immigrants last year, up from 28,026 in 2010.

"This is the highest level ever attained," he said during a press conference, adding that France would seek to expell 35,000 illegal immigrants this year.

Guéant also said the number of legal immigrants allowed into the country had dropped to 182,595 last year, down from 189,455 in 2010.

Describing current immigration figures as a "migration policy out of control", he said he hoped to reduce the number of legal immigrants to 150,000 per year -- a level not seen since the 1990s.

Guéant has repeatedly linked immigration with crime in France and on Tuesday said the delinquancy rate among immigrants was "two to three times higher" than the national average.


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