French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe has declared his support for a series of measures that would tighten the number of migrants allowed into the country, including the possibility of introducing immigration quotas.
“Today, the French asylum system is saturated,” Philippe said in his opening remarks on Monday before the National Assembly.
“The question of being steered by targets and admissions for residency is not a taboo. I’m not afraid of thinking about the idea of quotas.”
Citing government figures Philippe said that France saw a 22-percent increase in asylum applications in 2018, whereas the rest of Europe recorded a 10-percent decrease.
In 2017, more than 100,000 people had requested asylum in the country, although it was unclear how many were eventually accepted.
Philippe also questioned the controversial state-funded healthcare programme, Aide Medicale dEtat (AME) for covering of undocumented workers.
Introduced under the socialist government of Lionel Jospin in 2000, AME currently provides benefits for around 300,000 people and costs the state one billion euros ($1.1bn) a year.
“France should take care of all those who live in its territory,” Philippe said. “But it should be neither more, nor less attractive than its neighbours.”
Philippe said the government should also review the terms for family reunifications visas which enable spouses and children under the age of 18 who already have a parent living in France to apply for one. Under the scheme about 90,000 immigrants a year get in under that scheme.