French President Nicolas Sarkozy has said there are too many foreigners in France and the system for integrating them is “working worse and worse”.
In a TV debate, Mr Sarkozy defended his plan to almost halve the number of new arrivals if re-elected next month.
Mr Sarkozy is trailing in the opinion polls behind the Socialist candidate Francois Hollande.
He is also competing for conservative voters with the far-right National Front party led by Marine le Pen.
The president said while immigration could be a boon for France, it needed to be controlled more tightly through tougher qualification rules for residency.
Sarkozy will take his lumps for this but France’s immigration problem, and Europe as a whole, is a well documented fact. Many euro-states are clamping down on immigration from Africa and Middle Eastern countries. Each state still wants fresh bodies and minds to help carry the economy, but they are also seeking to reestablish native customs and traditions. Certainly nothing is wrong with any of that but multiculturalism, the religion of secular Europe, makes it very hard for leaders like Sarkozy and Merkel to take a stand. The political costs is enough to lose an election even though the majority of the people are against Europe’s current immigration policies.