The centrist candidate is pro European and has been keen to attract foreign investment to France – his government has run English-language advertising campaigns to attract foreign workers and businesses to France, and has expanded the Talent visa programme.
After the Brexit vote he sent a message to Brits in France, telling them they would always be welcome.
However, faced with challengers on the far-right, his 2022 campaign manifesto is less liberal on immigration.
Some of his policies have little detail on how exactly they would work.
Among the measures he has proposed are:
- Giving long-term residency cards (10 years) only to those who have passed a French exam AND have a job – he does not specify what level of French would be needed to pass the exam;
- Reforming the Schengen zone to make it harder to get into Europe;
- Reinforcing the French border force;
- Expelling foreigners who have “upset the public order” – no detail on whether this refers to all criminal offences or only those convicted of serious crimes
- Reforming the asylum process to make it easier to decide who can stay and “to expel more efficiently” those who cannot.
Anti-immigration policies have been the hallmark of Le Pen’s party since it was founded by her father Jean-Marie Le Pen.
Since taking over the party, renaming it Rassemblement National and generally trying to ‘detoxify’ it, Marine has been trying to expand her policies – this election campaign has seen her focus heavily on the cost-of-living crisis.
However, her rhetoric remains strongly anti-immigration. She is also strongly anti-EU and although she has dropped her policy of ‘Frexit’, she says that if elected she would refuse to obey EU rules or follow financial contributions – effectively exiting the EU by stealth.
Here’s what her manifesto proposes on immigration:
- End all non-economic immigration, so that people could only move to France to work;
- End immigration for family reunification purposes;
- Treat all requests for asylum overseas.
But the meat of her policy lies in making life harder for migrants who are already in France:
- Reserve social aid for French people and condition access to other state benefits on having worked in France for five years;
- Give French people priority in social housing and employment;
- Take away visas/residency cards of all foreigners who have been out of work for one year in France;
- Systematically expel illegal immigrants, delinquents and foreign criminals;
- Get rid of jus soli (the right to citizenship through birth in France);
- Allow French citizenship only to people who have “earned it and assimilated” – although she gives no detail on how this would be different to the current process, which already requires a French test and an interview on French culture for those applying through residency or marriage.