By Emma Jane Kirby
BBC News, Paris
The French parliament is to discuss whether to approve a new immigration bill which would make it harder for foreigners to work in France.
Mr Sarkozy is seen as a candidate to succeed President Chirac
The proposals, drawn up by French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, demand that newcomers learn the French language and culture.
They also favour highly skilled workers over those who are less qualified.
The draft law would make it harder for immigrants' families to settle in France and restrict residence permits.
Mr Sarkozy says his policies are fair and aim to meet public concern about an influx of foreigners. He sees the bill as "a safeguard against racism".
Church organisations argue the bill discriminates against the poor and is fundamentally "un-Christian".
Opponents view it as xenophobic and at the weekend, more than 5,000 protesters took to the streets of Paris demanding the proposals be softened.
Mr Sarkozy insists that after last year's riots in largely immigrant suburbs, it is time for France to get tough and to make sure it is attracting people who want to integrate.
The bill would end the automatic right of immigrants' families to a long-term residence permit after living 10 years in France.
Father Stephane Julain, a Catholic priest who works with migrants, attacked the bill, saying "human beings are more than what they can produce in the economy and in society".
"To come with a new law which hardened more what was already hard, it's really unacceptable."
Opposition politicians claim by introducing such a tough bill, Mr Sarkozy is trying to court far-right votes ahead of next year's presidential elections.
He rejects such charges, saying the new laws would improve race relations in France.