President of France, Emmanuel Macron
President of France, Emmanuel Macron

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French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday said France "cannot host everyone", intensifying his tough rhetoric on immigration. "France cannot host everyone if it wants to host people well," Macron told Europe 1 in an interview from the United Nations in New York where he is attending the annual General Assembly.

Macron noted France had seen a sharp increase in the numbers of people asking for asylum since the 2017 presidential election and said much tighter European cooperation was needed. "There is not enough cooperation in Europe and we need to look at this migratory phenomenon and take decisions," he said.

Macron's comments come as the French parliament is set next week for a major debate on migration policy, with the lower house National Assembly discussing the issue on Monday and the Senate on Wednesday. The French president, whose first term expires in 2022, is keenly aware that his biggest political rival remains Marine Le Pen and her National Rally party which has built its popularity on a strong immigration reduction stance.

The French president stated:

In order to be able to welcome everyone properly, we should not be too attractive a country . . . It would be an error to say that the question of migration is a taboo or just something to raise when there are crises.

He said two priorities now had to be given asylum as quickly as possible to those who have a right to France's protection and integrating them more effectively through more French courses and a more aggressive employment policy. But he said those who had entered France illegally needed to be moved away "much more efficiently", and that current processes last too long.

France last year received a record 122,743 asylum requests, up 22 percent compared to 2017.

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Updated: Wed, Oct 9th 2019 @ 12:25pm EDT