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Sarkozy says 'too many foreigners' in France

French president said that there are too many immigrants in France, defending his re-election campaign promise to cut the number of new arrivals in half.

"Our system of integration is working more and more badly, because we have too many foreigners on our territory and we can no longer manage to find them accommodation, a job, a school," Nicolas Sarkozy said on Tuesday.

He has been accused of tacking to the right in the run up to the April 22 first round of the French presidential election in order to recruit voters tempted by anti-immigrant candidate Marine Le Pen's platform.

But, in a television interview, he insisted that while immigration could remain "a boon" for France in many areas, it must be controlled more tightly through tougher residency qualifications for newcomers.

"Over the five year term I think that to restart the process of integration in good conditions, we must divide by two the number of people that we welcome, that's to say to pass from 180,000 per year to 100,000," he said.

Sarkozy also announced new plans to limit some welfare benefit payments currently available to immigrant workers to those who have enjoyed residency for 10 years and have worked for five of those.


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