French government to attend to immigration issues

French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin announced tightened controls on immigration, part of the government's response to unrest that shook the country this month.

Marriages celebrated abroad between French people and foreigners will no longer be automatically recognized in France, Villepin said. Consulates must screen couples first before foreign partners can be granted French identity papers, he added.

The measure is to be adopted by parliament in the first half of 2006.

The prime minister also said the government should have the ability to enforce a law outlawing polygamy. There are 8,000-15,000 polygamous families in France, according to official figures.

Some French officials cited polygamy as one reason that youths from underprivileged Muslim households joined in the rioting a suggestion that outraged opposition politicians, human rights groups and others.

The government has moved to address the problems that led to the violence this month in France's impoverished suburbs, home to many immigrant families from North and west Africa. While promising to ease unemployment for youths and fight racial discrimination, the conservative government also promised tighter controls on immigration.

President Jacques Chirac said two weeks ago that France must be tricter in enforcing the regulations of a law that allows immigrants to bring spouses and children to France, the AP reports.


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