Au revoir: Sarkozy cracks down on illegals in France

Stricter visa requirements, an assimilation-or-deportation policy, even financial incentives to encourage illegals to return home. It all seems so … unfamiliar, actually.

Sarkozy’s immigration crackdown has been inspired by worries that many newcomers are not integrating — as witnessed by three weeks of riots in France’s poor, immigrant-heavy neighborhoods last fall — and by broad concerns that immigrants poach welfare benefits and jobs in a country where unemployment hovers around 9 percent.

Those fears have long been the domain of the extreme-right, but Sarkozy says mainstream politicians must not shy away from them.

The government has offered payments to illegal immigrants who agree to return home, such as $6,300 for a family of four with young children. Sarkozy championed a new law that makes it harder for foreigners to bring their families here, but easier for those with special talents.

Angering human rights groups, he pledged to deport families of illegals unless they could prove their school-age children had strong ties to France. By an August deadline, the Interior Ministry received almost 30,000 applications from people hoping to stay. Sarkozy said authorities expected to approve only 6,000.

French leftists respond with protests — on airplanes.

Meanwhile, Karol’s got the scoop on what’s happening in Italy. This one does sound familiar, God help us.