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France’s Plan: Pay ‘Em To Go Home April 29, 2006

Posted by tkcollier in In The News, News and politics.
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By Carol Matlack
As demonstrations intensify and legislation stalls in the U.S. over the status of illegal immigrants, France has been taking another tack. It's offering cash payments — the equivalent of about $2,400 per adult and $600 per child — to illegals who agree to return to their native countries. The government began to offer the payments last September but so far has found fewer than 200 takers. Now, law-and-order Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy is urging officials to cut the program's red tape to make participation easier, according to the French daily Le Figaro, which obtained a copy of an Interior Ministry memo sent to local officials. But critics say the payments are too low to entice many of France's estimated 400,000 illegals to say adieu.

Meanwhile, France is getting tougher on those who don't leave voluntarily. Since 2002, the number of illegals expelled annually from the country has doubled, to 20,000 last year. At the same time, Sarkozy is spearheading legislation to make it easier for well-educated, highly skilled immigrants to enter the country. Sarkozy, the front-runner in the 2007 French presidential race, is himself the son of an immigrant. His father fled communist Hungary in 1949 and was granted refugee status in France.

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