Immigration chief refuses to ‘collaborate’ if Le Pen wins

The head of France’s Office for Immigration and Integration (Ofii) has said that if populist Marine Le Pen wins the French presidency this weekend, he will refuse to “collaborate” with her.

Didier Leschi, head of Ofii since 2015, said he would not “collaborate” with Le Pen if she won the French presidency in the second round of presidential elections, which are due to take place this weekend.

“I will not be able to collaborate with a political authority which I have the deep conviction that it breaks with our republican traditions”, declared Leschi, reports the channel BFMTV.

Leschi’s comments coincide with association France Terre d’Asile, an NGO that supports asylum seekers, which has called on French voters to reject Ms Le Pen in the second round vote.

“Never has the far right been so close to gaining power in our country. Never has public debate given so much space to its ideas and programs that challenge our republican values, the defense of democracy, freedom, equality and fraternity,” the group wrote in a statement.

“In this context, alarmed by what the National Rally program represents, France Terre d’Asile calls for it to be blocked by voting for Emmanuel Macron on April 24,” the group added.

Le Pen has called for sweeping reforms to France’s immigration system and promised to launch referenda on the matter if elected.

Last week, the president of the University of Nantes, Carine Bernault, called on professors and students at her university to block Le Pen, saying: “I solemnly call on you to vote on April 24 to block the far right and therefore the National Rally”.

Bernault has come under fire for her email, with National Rally (RN) politician Jordan Bardella claiming she broke the rule of neutrality associated with her position as university president.

“The position of the president of the University of Nantes, in violation of the rules of neutrality imposed by her office, is a gross fault. The students are right to be outraged. Be free: don’t let Emmanuel Macron’s friends dictate your choices! said Bardela.

Last week, a letter signed by around 500 artists also called on French voters to reject Le Pen and vote for President Emmanuel Macron, saying: “We cannot imagine, at the head of France, a candidate whose program remains that of xenophobia and withdrawal, a candidate who has made an alliance with totalitarian and warmongering powers.

Despite calls from voters to reject the populist candidate, polls show the race between the two stay tightwith only a few percentage points separating the pair.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or by e-mail at ctomlinson(at)


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