Paris: France will expel 35,000 illegal migrants from the country this year; French Interior Minister Claude Gueant said on Tuesday. He was unveiling a government plan aimed at sending back illegal migrants to their respective countries.

'In 2011, 32,922 illegal migrants were expelled. It's the highest figure never reached,' the minister said.

In 2012, the figure 'will be higher at 35,000 expulsions', he added.

Gueant also plans to cut the quota for legal migration by 10 percent per year to 180,000 migrants, to return to the level recorded in the mid-90s at 150,000, Xinhua reported.

According to the High Council for Integration, 11.5 million illegal migrants currently live in France, representing 19 percent of the country's 65 million population. Nearly 180,000 people arrive in France each year.

Many Africans try to reach Europe via Italy, Spain or Malta, which they see as their preferred entry point into Europe.

They set sail in small and rickety boats seeking for better life, but unfortunately many lose their lives in the sea before reaching their land of dreams.

(Agencies)