Le Pen hard­ens line against im­mi­gra­tion as vot­ing nears

Far right leader vows to halt ‘in­ter­lop­ers,’ ex­pel those in na­tion il­le­gally

The Dallas Morning News - - WORLD - Adam Nossiter, The New York Times

MAR­SEILLE, France — Slip­ping in polls in the fi­nal days be­fore the start of France’s pres­i­den­tial vot­ing on Sun­day, far-right leader Marine Le Pen is ral­ly­ing her base by hard­en­ing a line — al­ready very hard — on her prin­ci­pal cam­paign theme: im­mi­gra­tion.

At her party’s cam­paign rally Wed­nes­day night in Mar­seille, a city where im­mi­grants are om­nipresent, Le Pen, leader of the Na­tional Front, vowed to clamp down on im­mi­gra­tion, ex­pel those in the coun­try il­le­gally and make France “more French.”

The tough talk was met with thun­der­ous chants of “This is our home!” from a hall packed with 5,000 sup­port­ers wav­ing French flags, many bused in from all over south­ern France.

“Just watch the in­ter­lop­ers from all over the world come and in­stall them­selves in our home,” she said.

“But it’s up to the owner to de­cide who can come in,” Le Pen said. “So our first act will be to re­store France’s fron­tiers.”

The tough words were in­tended to shore up her flag­ging poll num­bers as the cam­paign closes. Polls once showed her at 30 per­cent sup­port in the 11can­di­date field, but her sup­port fell as doubts about her readi­ness to gov­ern grew.

Two men who were thought to be also-rans — Jean Luc Me­len­chon of the far left and Fran­cois Fil­lon of the cen­ter right — have been catch­ing up and are within 3 points of her.

Le Pen is still ex­pected to emerge Sun­day as one of the two fi­nal­ists for the May 7 runoff, a break­through for the far right in France. Polls pre­dict a loss for her in the sec­ond round.

But Le Pen is not tak­ing the first round for granted.

On Wed­nes­day, she promised a “mora­to­rium” on im­mi­gra­tion “as soon as I take of­fice”; an end to fam­ily re­uni­fi­ca­tions, the pol­icy of al­low­ing into the coun­try fam­ily mem­bers of im­mi­grants; the ex­pul­sion of im­mi­grants who are in France il­le­gally — “be­cause it is the law”; and a cut­off of med­i­cal help to unau­tho­rized im­mi­grants. All the pro­pos­als met with roars of ap­proval.

Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Slip­ping in the polls

in ad­vance of Sun­day’s pres­i­den­tial vot­ing, far right leader Marine Le Pen vowed at a Mar­seille rally Thurs­day to make France “more French.”

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