France to toughen immigration laws after mayors say towns cannot cope

Mr Macron’s desire to toughen France’s stance comes as far-right parties, who have seized on the migrant crisis, have made electoral gains. 

The mayors of Lille, Bordeaux, Strasbourg, Grenoble, Rennes, Toulouse and Nantes, claiming they have been “backed up against a wall”, have demanded Mr Macron’s government do more to tackle the number of migrants arriving in France. 

They said the government should hold a meeting to discuss the “social emergency”. 

France took in around 220,000 migrants in 2015 and 2016. 

In article for newspaper Le Monde, the mayors said: “The year 2017 ends with a massive increase in asylum applications and the arrival of newcomers puts extreme pressure on local administrations.

“The state, which has the full responsibility of the migration policy and the reception of migrants, their accommodation and processing their asylum files, must do more to recognise the seriousness of the current situation.

“It must, on all of these fronts, initiate new measures to rise to the height of the crisis that we cross.”

The mayors said integrating the migrants had become a “major issue”. 

Interior minister, Gerard Collomb, said the reforms would speed up asylum procedures and improve living conditions for migrants. 

The reforms would include a resettlement scheme that would see 20,000 housing units be built by 2018. 

Mr Collomb said: “In Germany, about 300,000 people have been denied asylum, they want to come to France. Are we taking them all? 

“No, because otherwise we would have to build a city like Lyon.”

But some charities have said they are concerned the new bill will allow police to conduct identity controls in emergency housing centres. 

France’s largest trade union, CFDT, said the policy raised queries over the “unconditional housing of persons in distress” and would fuel “brutality” toward migrants. 

At a meeting of the European Union heads of states, country leaders disputed the bloc’s policy for dealing with migrants. 

France has been particularly affected by the European migrant crisis and asylum seekers continue to sleep rough on the streets of Paris.

Last week, a group of Parisians said they would start a hunger strike if the police did not relocate the 100 Afghan and Syrian migrants camping in Paris.