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France’s immigration minister summoned some 20 local government heads for a meeting on Wednesday to demand that they step up deportations of illegal migrants.
Immigration Minister Brice Hortefeux called in “prefects who must improve their figures when it comes to border exits,” said a ministry spokesman.
President Nicolas Sarkozy, who won election in May on a platform that called for tightening controls on immigration, has set a target of 25,000 deportations for 2007.
But fewer than 9,000 illegal migrants were deported in the first five months of the year, according to Hortefeux, who said this week that he was nevertheless confident of reaching the target.
The shortfall followed the entry of Romania and Bulgaria in the European Union, complicating the deportation process of Roma who used to make up about 30 percent of all illegal foreigners deported from France.
Between 200,000 and 400,000 illegal foreigners are currently living in France.
French authorities recently faced harsh criticism over deportations after a 12-year-old Russian boy was seriously injured falling from the fourth floor of a building during an attempt by the family of illegal migrants to avert arrest.
(Posted on September 13, 2007)