04:03 GMT10 July 2020
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    PARIS (Sputnik) - Laurent Wauquiez, the president of French center-right The Republicans party, has said that he wants to hold a referendum in order to step up measures against migration.

    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.

    The draft bill has sparked arguments between major political fractions, with several members of Macron’s La Republique En Marche! (Republic on the Move) party characterizing the reform as "stigmatizing," a violation of human rights or simply useless. Meanwhile, parties on the right, including Marine Le Pen’s National Front, have called for stricter measures to curb migration.

    "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.

    READ MORE: Rampant Migrant Unemployment Threatens to Further Raise Swedish Taxes — Forecast

    The bill has faced harsh criticism from a number of migrant charities, which have claimed that it would become more difficult for migrants to defend their rights and prepare their cases.

    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.

    READ MORE: Let Nothing Be Wasted: French Migrants Will Reportedly Wear Ex-President's Suits

    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.


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    referendum, migrants, French Republican party, Laurent Wauquiez, France
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