"We have to put aside massive legalization. It doesn't work and it penalizes, even immigrants," Brice Hortefeux said on Europe 1 radio.
Policy, he said, would be guided by "firmness and humanism" with "lots of pragmatism."
He also said he planned to adhere to the policy of deporting illegal immigrants from France. The number of deportees was expected to reach some 25,000 this year, and Hortefeux said he would ensure that figure is reached.
Hortefeux, a longtime confidant of Sarkozy, was among those named to the new government on Friday.
The conservative Sarkozy, elected president May 6, had reached out to the anti-immigration far right to capture votes, notably ruffling some feathers in his own camp with his promise to create a ministry of immigration and national identity.
Hortefeux said he planned to meet shortly with officials from sectors like the building and hotel and restaurant industries, known to rely heavily on immigrants.
Hortefeux also said he would not put into question a long-standing policy of "family grouping," by which immigrants in France can bring their families here. However, he indicated, as Sarkozy had, that modifications may be made in order to ensure that those who join other family members in France can be integrated.
"It must be carried out in respect for the dignity of those who want to come and (in a way) that favors their integration," he said.
Sarkozy had said he wants to ensure that those who join families in France can speak French and that family members receiving them can support the newcomers.