Reviewing immigration policy.


The Swiss Parliament is hoping to draw up a new bill to replace the existing law on asylum that dates back more than 70 years.

Although there have been new provisions on immigration and the admission of refugees to the law that came into existence in 1931, it is still quite outdated.

Over the past 100 years Switzerland has seen its immigrant population rise, fall and rise again.

Today, the percentage of foreigners has risen to 20 per cent, partly owing to the failure of moves to ease the naturalisation of foreign residents.

The decision to tighten the roles has pleased neither the left, nor the right wing parties.

The new law that still has to be approved by the Parliament, will crack down on asylum seekers arriving from so-called "safe" countries and will permit cuts in development aid to countries that refuse to take back rejected asylum seekers.

Amid the stricter legislation there is one relaxation: a policy of accepting refugees on humanitarian grounds will now become law.

"The new legislation will be much harsher than what we have now," says Hildegard Fassler, leader of the centre-left Social Democrats' parliamentary faction.

Meanwhile the right wing Swiss People's Party thinks the new law doesn't go far enough. "Overall we're pretty disappointed," says Caspar Baader, who heads the party's parliamentary group. "The left and centre parties prevented a really meaningful tightening up of the law."

"What we're really unhappy about," he continues, "is the decision to accept people on humanitarian grounds."

This clause applies to people who have fled their countries because of war or persecution and...

To continue reading