France to cut visas for North Africans in migration dispute

France will reduce the number of visas issued to people in North Africa because governments there are refusing to take back migrants expelled from France, the French government’s spokesperson said on Tuesday.

The French government plans to reduce the number of visas given to Algerians and Moroccans by half, and to Tunisians by 30%, reports said.

Government spokesman Gabriel Attal said France decided to take action starting in a few weeks because Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia had refused to provide consular documents for their citizens being deported from France after arriving illegally.

All three countries were part of France’s colonial empire, and many Europe-bound migrants coming from the North African nations have family or other ties in France.

After the announcement, Tunisian President Kais Saied’s office said in a statement: “We are among countries that are cooperative in this domain, and we have excellent relations with France.” A Tunisian official said efforts were being made to find a solution via diplomatic channels.

Mr. Attal said France has been trying to reach a diplomatic solution after it passed a tougher immigration law in 2018. Between January and July, French judicial authorities ordered 7,731 Algerians to leave French territory because they didn’t have residency authorisation but only 22 departed because many more lacked the necessary documents from Algeria.

The announcement comes as politicians on the right and far right are pushing for tougher immigration rules in advance of France’s April presidential election. President Emmanuel Macron, a centrist, is expected to announce a reelection bid.

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