The National Assembly has been discussing since Monday a draft law on asylum and immigration policies aiming at speeding up the review process for asylum claims to make it easier for the government to return migrants who fail to get asylum to their countries of origin.
"I want a referendum to be organized … with a very simple question: do you want France to create laws that allow reducing migration to minimum?… This is an important enough debate for the French to have the right to choose," Wauqioez told RTL broadcaster on Wednesday.
Wauquiez said that he wanted to review jus soli or birthright citizenship and that his party’s goal was to reduce migration. He noted that the bill proposed by the government did not allow for this.
"In 2017, the first year of Emmanuel Macron, France granted 260,000 residence permits. This is a record for the last 43 years. If nothing changes during his five-year term, there will be a million migrants in our country… Migration has become an extremely difficult issue in our country, with integration problems and the rise of communalism that everybody notes, and which is linked to a simple reality: we receive too many migrants comparing to the integration capacity of our country," Wauquiez said.
The draft law on asylum and immigration policies was presented French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb in February. Along with intensifying the deportation policy, Collomb has pledged to create better conditions for those who have the right to stay in France under a refugee status.
France, as well as a number of other European states, have been significantly affected by the ongoing migration crisis. The city of Calais, located on the northern coast of France near the French side of Channel Tunnel, which connects the country with the United Kingdom, has for years been home to hundreds of migrants trying to cross the border.
In 2016, the migrant camp in Calais was dismantled due to the horrible living conditions there, but asylum seekers and refugees still arrive in the city and are forced to stay on French soil.
In 2017, over 100,000 migrants and refugees applied for asylum in France, which became the highest number in the past 40 years. In January, Collomb said that around 26,000 illegal migrants were sent back in 2017, noting that forced returns had increased by 14 percent compared to previous years.