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France to Toughen Immigration Law


France plans to make it harder for families to immigrate to the country. The immigration minister, Brice Hortefeux, proposed new rules for family reunification in the national parliament Wednesday. Anita Elash reports from Paris.

The proposals announced Wednesday apply mainly to people who want to bring their families to France, and it is going to make the process tougher. Under the proposal, the main breadwinner would have to show he has a steady job and earns enough money to support his family.

Family members will have to show they speak French and understand French values. If they don't, they would be required to take a two-month course before their applications are approved. Parents would also have to sign a contract, promising to take a course on their rights and responsibilities toward their children.

This will be the third time the French government has toughened its immigration laws in as many years, in an attempt to crack down on illegal immigration. But activists say the changes announced Wednesday will do little to solve the illegal immigration problem.

"This law is extremely bureaucratic," said said Pierre Henri, the director general of Terre d'Asile, an activist group fighting for the rights of immigrants on the RTL radio station, adding it will add several months to a procedure that is already very long.

The law also addresses concerns about how France treats people who seek exile in the country, and brings the rules in line with European Union regulations.

The French parliament is scheduled to debate the law in September.

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