PARIS (Sputnik) — Jacques Cheminade, a French presidential candidate from the Solidarity and Progress (Solidarite et Progres) party, told Sputnik he was advocating free healthcare access to all migrants staying in the country longer than three months in order to prevent disease outbreaks.
"I insist on an important measure, which is opposed by [Marine] Le Pen, Xavier Bertrand and even [Francois] Fillon, which is medical help for foreigners that have stayed in France for over three months and are earning below 750 euros per month. This is not only due to humanist concerns, but also because they can spark an epidemic," Cheminade said in an interview.
Cheminade is in favor of a broad effort to tackle the root causes of migration and help Middle Eastern and African countries with economic development while also helping those migrants that did arrive in France with language and jobs that match their skills.
"One should not fall back on extremes such as 'I won't let anyone in' or 'I will let everyone in,' but instead learn why migrants come in detail," he said.
France became one of the top destinations for asylum seekers fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East and Africa over the past two years. Some 70,000 first-time applicants were registered in the country by Eurostat in 2015 and slightly more in 2016. Overall, the country came in third after Germany and Italy as a destination choice.
According to a Monday Ifop poll, centrist Emmanuel Macron is projected to win the race with 23 percent of votes, followed by the right-wing anti-migration National Front party leader Marine Le Pen with 22.5 percent of votes. Head of left-wing political movement La France Insoumise (Unsubmissive France) Jean-Luc Melenchon and The Republicans' nominee Francois Fillon have equal chances coming in third, both standing at 19.5 percent.
The first round of the French presidential election is scheduled for April 23, while the run-off between the top two contenders will take place on May 7. A total of 11 candidates will take part in the presidential race, according to the French Constitutional Council's president.