Paradise Lost? Swiss Referendum on Tougher Immigration and Asylum Laws
From the desk of George Handlery on Mon, 2006-09-11 17:29
Most everything known about Switzerland is distorted. Take ‘Swiss Cheese’. Hardly anyone consumes it locally. The banks operate quite unlike depicted in the flics. Besides the disinformation involving chocolate and watches – neither is an indigenous invention – no one knows much about Switzerland because – by design – everything newsworthy is made to occur beyond the border. Therefore, interesting news from Switzerland is a rarity. However, a rare chance has arisen as on September 24th the Swiss are to vote on two laws approved by parliament last December.
Switzerland – an island in the choppy waters of the EU – has an odd democratic tradition. The country practices extreme forms of the referendum and the initiative. (An initiative is a popular action in a matter the legislative avoids, while in a referendum society reacts to laws passed.) Both versions can reflect more than local concerns. Initiatives and referendums express the people’s (in Swiss legalese “the sovereign’s”) reaction to what the government does. In issue wrapped in PC taboos is up to a vote on September 24th. Two items made into law regarding immigration and refugees are to be judged.
Under the revised asylum law, rejected asylum seekers no longer receive social welfare payments. Those who fail to present identity papers will be expelled within 48 hours. However, if the applicant can prove that he cannot have documents or if he suffered previous trauma (such as torture) then a stay will be granted. The above procedure is to take place with someone from a “humanitarian [thus non-governmental] organisation” present. This makes the new restrictions rather loose. It has also been made easier for those granted asylum to be joined by their families and to work. Also to be voted upon is a new immigration law, called the Foreigners National Act, which favours EU and EFTA nationals and limits the migration of non-European and unqualified workers.
Like other developed countries with generous welfare, Switzerland has a problem with an immigration that is growing in volume while shrinking regarding the quality of entrants. (Quality here refers to the skills brought along and the willingness to integrate in the host community.) Thanks to globally accessible info, the retrograde, therefore poor, regions of the world are aware of the good life ‘over there.’ Many find changing their own system, whose deficiencies are rooted in a tradition that is reinforced by nationalism and sanctified by international politics, difficult. It is easier to seek personal salvation through flight from the misery at home to the welfare abroad. Thereby a new “migration of peoples” got unleashed. So the island outposts of Europe – the Canaries, Lampedusa and the Spanish enclaves in North Africa – are overwhelmed by people fleeing not persecution but a poverty that is “equally enjoyed by all.”
In the following, two matters are to be separated. One is the regulative as passed, the other is the ‘correction’ proposed by the referendum’s initiators. Let us begin with the ordinance of the seven-man Federal Council (Bundesrat) which is Switzerland’s collective presidency and ministries rolled into one.
The Bundesrat found that the law of 1931 concerning aliens is not adequate in the present. The treaties with the EU and the EFTA regulate the residency and work of EU citizens. For the rest of the world, work permits are to be limited to qualified individuals. Getting qualified as an integrable entrant is decisive. The regulation also foresees that in the case of settling on the basis of marriage, the alien partner, if divorced, will only have a right to stay if he is integrated and has been in the country for three years. (An anecdotal insert is warranted. When my daughter married, the obviously alien groom exiting the office gave, before splitting up, a wad of money to the bride for her services.) Additionally, permits can be made dependent of attendance of language and “integration” courses. Concurrently, the punishment for ‘coyotes’ is raised while the exchange of information between state agencies is facilitated.
Such considerations are discriminatory as they amount to the ‘exclusion’ of some, say the critics. The state is made to “sniffle” in marriages. A hundred thousand people (in a country of 7 million) are undocumented: it is a deficiency of the law is that does not legalize their stay.
The second law to be voted upon regulates refugee status, since the hundred thousand mentioned claim to be refugees thereby intermingling economic immigration and political asylum. In the government’s rendition, the goal of the law modifying asylum is to protect the persecuted. Experience shows that hither generosity had been exploited. Asylum seeking immigrants often make untrue statements regarding their origin. Pursuing their goal, they destroy their IDs, refuse to name their country of origin and to reveal their true name. This is done in order to prevent their return to their homeland in case that refugee status is denied. The tactics pay: those who can not be deported are allowed to stay. The renitence is provocative as even airport arrivals claim to lack the papers that were upon landing disposed in the garbage or flushed in the toilets. Everybody in his right mind knows that you can not get on a plane unless you have identifications. (Actually, most dictatorships, trying to control everything, force upon their subjects too many papers documenting too much that is private elsewhere.)
Therefore the revision of the rules provides that all, except those who can present a ‘credible’ reason for not having papers, will be denied asylum. The time required for this decision is radically shortened. An exception to immediate refusal will be made if (1) the applicant’s home-land refuses to issue papers (2) if this individual is clearly being persecuted by his government, and (3) a reason exists to assume that, due to mistreatment prior to the flight, the claimant is emotionally unable to present his case. This hearing is to take place with a delegate of a humanitarian organization in attendance.
In order to implement the ruling of expulsion, the time for “detention for expulsion” is extended to 18 months. It is immediately terminated in case the detainee is willing to go home. If the law is promulgated, those unwilling to leave the country voluntarily shall not receive ‘social aid,’ that is welfare. (Their allotment: food, lodging, medical attention and $208.00) On the other hand, recognized refugees that are provisionally allowed to remain and who are likely to stay long will be allowed to work and to have their family join them. The community where they reside receives the right to change the “provisional” status into a “residence permit” in case comportment signals a high degree of assimilation.
What the new regulative does not settle quite satisfactorily is what is to happen to aliens convicted as criminals. Some aspects of the ordinance are suited to reduce criminality. Nevertheless, when half of the prison population comes from a pool of 10% of the residents, much remains to be done.
Benign as the new legislation regarding aliens might appear to be, the initiants, who urge “rejection,” make it appear that one of history’s humanitarian catastrophes is about to be legalized. Here their arguments.
The persecuted cannot get documents from a state that maltreats them. Victims of torture are unable to report on what had been done to them. With the regulative the rights of refugees and international law would be violated. Those not given refugee status (and unwilling to exit the country) would not receive support payments and would be treated as ‘illegals’. This endangers the minors among them becoming easy victims of ‘slave traders’. Furthermore, detaining those unwilling to follow a court’s order to leave the country is expensive, costing about $806,000 p.a. Therefore a ‘no’ is required to defeat a law that is “inhuman, discriminatory and arbitrary.”
Let this be ended with the rejoinder of the Federal Council that urges a ‘yes’. “The paradise that is Switzerland is not big enough for everybody,” says Justice minister Christoph Blocher. Switzerland should remain able to continue to protect the truly persecuted. Thus it is imperative to have effective means to combat abuses. The primary goal remains to nudge those not accepted as victims of persecution, to return home voluntarily. Those who distort their background or refuse to cooperate with their case workers hope that through the delay they cause, their stay can be extorted. Unconstructive behavior must not be rewarded. The measures to protect the truly persecuted are adequate and are therefore conform to Switzerland’s humanitarian tradition. The planned terms for those allowed to stay on a temporary basis will facilitate their integration. Even if, after three years, the family is allowed to join the original refugee, the social costs of harboring the victims of persecution will decrease.
Although the case – either for approval or rejection – might appear to be clear-cut, the vote’s outcome is unpredictable. The issue is shrouded in prejudices of all sorts. Some people dislike whatever can be labeled as ‘foreign’. If it is different then it is also bad. Others have the brotherhood of all men as their premise. Whatever is different is good and if it seems to be bad (drug-dealing, violent crimes, prostitution) then it is a matter of subjective perception and so there is an excusing explanation for the offense. Separating the billion-or-so potential economic immigrants ‘in reserve’ from a few thousand genuine refugees is under all circumstance difficult. If the rules reward cheating, it is naïve to hope that some day the supply of the willing-to-come will run dry.
Now the fudging about the obvious will be put to a vote. Those urging the voters to say ‘no’ tell them to be ‘good’ and to forget what they know from the criminal statistics, their experience in the streets and the late-night-train that is to be avoided. There is a good chance that the gist of the foregoing reminds you – wherever you live – of something you have heard, know, experienced or have thought about. If so, your analogy points to an inability of self defense caused by a questionable concept of tolerance and commiseration. You know what? All this might not be wholly accidental.
Immigration - privilege not right
Submitted by Miriam on Sun, 2006-09-17 21:09.
The islamofascists of Asia and Africa think we owe them citizenship rights. No, we dont.
They cite colonialism as an excuse. They were worse colonialists. We left AFRICA AND ASIA where we have hardly any Whites left. They are yet to leave especially Serbia and India [where more than 200 million are left dumped as criminal burden on the timid and trusting Hindus].
We need to bring up this at every chance to make them pay up annual compensation to the poverty sticken India that has more than 70% poor, struggling to make a living, with farmers committing suicide unable to pay back the heavy interest rates on loans imposed by the filthy rich islamofascists.
We need to boycott their business to bring them in line and impose a moratorium on their immigration [allowing in only the smart genius types from among the non-muslims, hoping they dont mind our cynicism and paranoia].
Submitted by handlery on Tue, 2006-09-12 14:35.
I am sorry about an error that is due to editing problems in paragraph #3.
Naturally humanitarian considerations -whatever that means- will continue to play a role.
A new, corrected version of the text should be posted soon (September 12, 15:34 ).
Spain is thinking about an
Submitted by Brigands on Tue, 2006-09-12 10:57.
Spain is thinking about an immigrationstop.