France announced an “action plan” Wednesday to “systematically” deport illegal economic migrants and cut the processing time for asylum requests.
President Emmanuel Macron has described the French migrant system as “completely overwhelmed” with 40 percent of asylum seekers living on the streets. The country received 85,000 asylum requests in 2016, which has flooded parts of the country with homeless migrants.
Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said 12,500 homes and shelters will be added within the next two years. The maximum processing time will be cut from 14 to six months and systematic deportations of failed migrants will be launched.
“I introduce [these measures] in all humbleness as I am perfectly aware that the issues at stake today are difficult,” Philippe said at a news conference Wednesday.
“It they were easy to solve, I have no doubt they would have been solved.”
Philippe added that the migrant crisis is “high, visible and, everything indicates, will be durable.”
Paris police removed 2,500 migrants from the north of the city Friday in its 34th mass evacuation since the migrant crisis broke out in the summer of 2015.
“It’s always the same problem,” Minister of the Interior Gerard Collomb said of the situation in Paris.
“First off you say ‘I’m going to open a center for 500 people’ and next thing you know you have 3,000 or 4,000 people and you’re left having to sort the problem out.”
The plan comes just days after French president Emmanuel Macron stirred controversy at the G20 summit this past weekend by suggesting the birthrate of African women is among the continent’s “civilizational” problems.
The fact there are “seven or eight children born to each woman” is holding Africa back, Macron implied during a question-and-answer session at the summit.
He said that although France, a former colonial power that controlled dozens of territories across Africa, accepted responsibility to help with infrastructure, education and heath, a “simple money transfer” was not the answer.
“It’s by a more rigorous governance, a fight against corruption, a fight for good governance, a successful demographic transition when countries today have seven or eight children per woman,” Mr Macron added.
“At the moment, spending billions of euros outright would stablise nothing. So the transformation plan that we have to conduct together must be developed according to African interests by and with African leaders.”