French police have dismantled makeshift migrant camps in areas underneath highways in Paris after President Emmanuel Macron’s government pledged to get tough on immigration.
Police carried out a large operation dismantling hundreds of tents and threatening to put those who return to the sites in detention centres.
Police Prefect Didier Lallement told reporters on Thursday that “1,606 people were evacuated and the site is now freed of all its occupants”.
About 600 police officers were involved in clearing up the camps, as Mr Lallement said a police presence in the areas would be maintained to stop the migrants from returning.
In a statement, the police warned that “people who would try to resettle will be immediately checked and their administrative status verified, leading to them being placed in an administrative detention centre if they are staying illegally on national territory”.
The highly-publicised operation, the biggest in over a year, comes one day after a French government pledge to “take back control” of immigration.
New measures to grapple with rising immigration were announced on Wednesday including what amounts to soft quotas for economic migrants, capping the numbers of immigrants according to job needs in various professions.
The centrist government’s shift to the right has provoked anger from the left, as Mr Macron has been accused of cynically trying to fend off the appeal of the far right ahead of 2020’s municipal elections.
The elections next year will help parties lay the groundwork for the 2022 presidential vote. It is widely assumed that Mr Macron will face off against far-right leader Marine Le Pen, whom he defeated in the presidential run-off in 2017.