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France deports 29,000 illegal residents in one year

France deported 29,000 illegal residents last year, 2,000 more than the target set by President Nicolas Sarkozy, the immigration ministry announced.

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AFP - France deported 29,000 illegal residents last year, 2,000 more than the target set by President Nicolas Sarkozy, the immigration minister said Thursday.

Among the 29,000 foreigners expelled from the country were 12 Afghans, Immigration Minister Eric Besson said, noting that Britain had deported 1,000 Afghans during the same year.

Rights groups and opposition Socialists have criticised Besson for deporting Afghan migrants onboard charter planes organised with Britain.

Last year, about 175,000 foreigners arrived in France with long-term visas, Besson told Europe 1 radio.

France sets annual deportation quotas of between 25,000 and 29,000 as part of its campaign to crack down on illegal migration.

Most of the deportees are sent back home on planes.

The immigration ministry estimates that there are between 200,000 and 400,000 foreigners residing illegally in France.
 

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