Macron Wants to Focus on Settling Migrants in Rural Areas

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Last Updated on September 20, 2022

French President Emmanuel Macron wants to craft a bill next year that would overhaul France’s immigration and asylum policies. One proposal floated by the president would emphasize the resettlement of predominantly African and Middle Eastern migrants in rural areas where population has declined.

Macron stated that an overhaul of the French immigration system will be a top legislative focus next year. The French President argued that the current policy was “absurd” and that the system is both “inefficient and inhumane.”

“We have a policy that is both inefficient and inhumane, inefficient because we find ourselves with more foreigners in an irregular situation than many of our neighbors, inhumane because this pressure means that they are too often badly received,” Macron told the French newspaper Le Figaro on Thursday.

The illegal alien population in France is large and growing. According to a report from November of last year, French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin estimated that the migrant population currently numbers between 600,000 and 700,000 people.

“France has far fewer illegal immigrants than most of the major countries in Europe, starting with Great Britain: between 1 and 1.5 million against 600,000 to 700,000 for us,” Darmanin said in an effort to downplay the issue.

While making his remarks Thursday, Macron also called for a new system to redistribute migrants across France. He specifically mentioned “rural areas, which are losing population,” arguing that “the conditions for their reception will be much better than if we put them in areas that are already densely populated, with a concentration of massive economic and social problems.”

Similar policies have been proposed in other European Union nations, including Germany and Italy.

In 2016, a German agriculture minister called for the nation’s rural communities to be turned into a “laboratory of integration,” according to a report from Breitbart News. Unlike in densely populated big cities, “there can be no parallel societies in rural areas,” said Karl-Friedrich Thoene from the infrastructure and agriculture ministry of the eastern state of Thuringia. “The village community is the ideal chance for integration.”

A University of Milano-Bicocca study released last year also proposed resettling asylum seekers in rural areas and small towns in Italy. The paper argued that if local governments were to limit migrant centers to just 25 people, the economic cost would be small.

National Rally party leader Marine Le Pen, who unsuccessfully ran against Macron twice, criticized the proposed immigration overhaul.  “Emmanuel Macron wants to distribute foreigners in an irregular situation [illegal aliens] to rural areas. We believe that they should go back home. Unable to apply the law, he wants to change it. We will oppose this new madness!” Le Pen wrote in a tweet Friday.

Eric Zemmour, a populist who also ran in the nation’s presidential election earlier this year, proposed €10,000 “birth grants” as a possible solution. Zemmour argued that such a policy would repopulate France naturally. He also framed his policy proposal as a cost-effective solution, highlighting that France spends “€50,000 spent each year per unaccompanied illegal minor.”

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