French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb has claimed there are around 300,000 illegal migrants living in France.
The Interior Minister presented the figures after being urged to do so by politicians from the conservatives and the populist National Front during a debate on the French immigration budget for 2018. While Collomb claims there are 300,000 illegal migrants, the number of beneficiaries of State Medical Aid suggests a number between 300,000 and 400,000, L’Express reports.
“We think we have around 300,000 illegal people,” Collomb said and added: “We are trying to implement a policy so that those who are denied asylum can be forced to leave the territory.”
While Collomb noted that the overall deportation procedures were up 6.5 per cent, those for migrants under the Dublin agreement were up 124 per cent. Under the European Union’s Dublin agreement, asylum seekers can be deported back to the EU member state in which they first sought asylum.
Every year, France initiates between 75,000 to 90,000 deportation procedures but not all cases end up with deportations being physically carried out.
The Interior Minister said that the government’s current immigration priority is less focused on deportation and more focused on preventing illegal economic migrants by signing deals with governments overseas.
Meeting With African Leaders, Macron Calls For Migrant Processing Areas in Niger, Chad
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) August 29, 2017
French President Emmanuel Macron announced earlier this year that France would be working with Chad and Niger to create asylum processing centres to prevent deaths on the Mediterranean and stop large waves of economic migrants flooding into Europe.
The 2018 immigration budget will also see an increase of 26 per cent to a total of 1.38 billion euros which will go towards funding integration projects for asylum seekers as well as French language classes, social housing, and other projects.
The budget is far below the immigration budget of neighbouring Germany which climbed to 9.23 billion euros last year, up 73 per cent from 2015.
Even Austria, which has a much smaller population than France, is estimated to be paying 1.8 billion euros for asylum seekers this year, a number coming close to the country’s entire military budget.