French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin has claimed that there may be as many as 700,000 migrants living in France who do not have valid residency papers.
The French interior minister claimed that the figure was, in fact, quite low for a major European country, noting the illegal immigrant population of the United Kingdom was estimated at between 1 and 1.5 million.
“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 told French media this week, newspaper La Provence reports.
Exact figures for illegal immigrants are not known, but Darmanin’s statistics are likely based on the State Medical Aid (AME) system which gives healthcare to illegal immigrants living in French territory.
In September, a report noted that France intended to spend as much as €1 billion (£860 million/$1.17 billion) on the AME system in 2022, up from the previous budget of €990 (£850 million/$1.162 billion) from this year.
France to Spend One Billion Euros on Healthcare for Illegal Migrants in 2022 https://t.co/veinLMv8tE
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) September 24, 2021
The estimation of up to 700,000 illegals is a drastic increase from figures presented by former Interior Minister Gérard Collomb, who in 2017 stated that there were only 300,000 illegal immigrants living in France.
Professor Jérôme Wittwer, an author of a report on illegal migration, had claimed in 2019 that the number could be far higher than official estimates, stating that only one in two illegals applied for AME and that the real number of illegal immigrants in France could be double the official estimates.
The total cost of mass migration in France per year is also disputed, but a 2020 Court of Auditors report claimed that the country had spent €6.57 billion (£5.77bn/$7.09bn) on immigration in 2019, a figure 48 per cent higher than in 2012.
Populist National Rally leader Marine Le Pen, one of the leading candidates for next year’s presidential elections, stated at the time that the overall figure could be much higher and estimated that the state was spending €70 billion (£61bn/$76bn) when all costs were totalled.