Brice Hortefeux, the first occupant of Nicolas Sarkozy's spanking-new Ministry for Immigration, National Identity and Co-Development has revealed his targets for 2007. He states that he hopes to remove 25,000 clandestins - or undocumented immigrants - by the end of the year; M. le Ministre spices his discourse by saying that the expulsions may be voluntary, though, failing that, force will be used.
At the risk of sounding alarmist this sounds remarkably like what the Front National has been touting in their electoral manifestos over the past two decades. And perhaps this is only the start.
M. Hortefeux continues: 'We have four objectives to attain: to control the flow of migration, to favour integration, promote French national identity and to encourage co-development'. I have a sneaky feeling that 'encouraging co-development' means telling countries of origin of the immigrants to stop letting them out. As for 'promoting French national identity', does the French state not do that in quite a formidable and effective way every day? To wish to put an emphasis on this sounds as bizarre as the government promoting the eating of lunch. But there are ulterior motives, which make this unpleasant enterprise an increasingly dubious mirror-image of the 'Office of American Absorption'that features in Philip Roth's The Plot Against America. Expect the CRS in nursery-school playgrounds near you soon, on the outlook for easy pickings to meet Hortefeux's quota.