The vast majority of French are becoming increasingly hostile to accepting more migrants and believe they make the country less secure, according to a new exclusive survey carried out by the Ifop agency.
According to the survey, almost three-quarters of respondents believe that immigration costs France more than it earns from it, while seven out of 10 further claim that the country no longer has the means to welcome immigrants. The impact of immigrants on the public sphere is perceived as negative by 64 percent of respondents.
A clear majority of French people, representing 60 percent, believe that welcoming foreigners is no longer possible because of differences in values and problems of cohabitation. An almost identical share believes that massive immigration plays a negative role in defining French identity and the cohesion of society. These identity fears go hand in hand with negative assumptions about the impact of immigration on secularism, as 61 percent of people see adverse effects of immigration on respect for this principle.
A large majority of French also believe there is a link between insecurity and immigration. Two-thirds of French people consider that immigration has a negative effect in terms of overall security and crime, and 53 percent of the French believes it maximizes the risk of terrorism.
Following recent high-profile terrorist attacks, including the beheading of French history teacher Samuel Paty by an 18-year-old Chechen Islamist and a second attack directed at the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, public sentiment regarding the topic of immigration is expected to sour further. Over 250 French people have lost their lives due to Islamic terrorist attacks since 2015.
The survey also looked at different components of the “immigration phenomenon” perceived by the French were evaluated. For a majority, the priority issues concern the fight against illegal immigration (53 percent) and the cost of immigration (52 percent). These two dimensions precede the integration of foreigners (41 percent) or the reception of migrants (36 percent). The beneficial contribution, whether it is cultural, human, or economic, emerges in the last position.
Previous surveys show that the French are becoming increasingly negative towards migration compared to previous years.
“In 2018, 64 percent of people thought that our country already has too many foreigners and welcoming more immigrants is not desirable and 60 percent that we cannot welcome more migrants because our values are too different and this brings problems in coexistence,” commented senior opinion analyst from Ifop, Paul Cébille, on Twitter.
According to almost half of the respondents (49 percent), immigration leads to a lesser degree of gender equality or respect for minorities, for example, homosexuals, and Jews.
The point of view on immigration is vastly different for those supporters of the left and the right, with differences of more than 40 or 50 points. And the supporters of the French President Emmanuel Macron’s Republicans and those of Marine Le Pen’s National Rally express similar judgments that immigration has a negative impact in general and that it costs more than it earns.
Sympathizers of the Republicans often appear at a point of equilibrium, while drawing closer to the people of the left, on questions of cost, the right to vote of foreigners, or the terrorist risk linked to immigration.
The survey was conducted on a sample of 1,015 people, representative of the French population aged 18 and over.