The French president has said that there are too many immigrants in France, defending his re-election campaign promise to cut the number of new arrivals by half.

"Our system of integration is working more and more badly, because we have too many foreigners on our territory and we can no longer manage to find them accommodation, a job, a school," Nicolas Sarkozy said on Tuesday.

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He has been accused of taking to the right in the run up to the April 22 first round of the French presidential election in order to recruit voters tempted by anti-immigrant candidate Marine Le Pen's platform.

Jean Yves Camus, a specialist on European Far Right politics at the Institute of International and Strategic Relations, told al Jazeera:"The shift to the right is not terminated yet, there are many issues where the many extreme conservative parties are pretty much different from the National Front party."

Camus added that the Conservative party and the National Front differ on many key issues like death penalty and immigration, however, the Conservatives may shift their stance in order to gain more votes from the National Front in the upcoming presidential elections.

But, in a television interview, he [Sarkozy] insisted that while immigration could remain "a boon" for France in many areas, it must be controlled more tightly through tougher residency qualifications for newcomers.

"Over the five year term I think that to restart the process of integration in good conditions, we must divide by two the number of people that we welcome, that's to say to pass from 180,000 per year to 100,000," he said.

Sarkozy also announced new plans to limit some welfare benefit payments currently available to immigrant workers to those who have enjoyed residency for 10 years and have worked for five of those.

Source: Agencies