Switzerland will decide whether to effectuate automatic deportation of foreign residents convicted of crimes ranging from murder to breaking the speed limit in a referendum to be held later this month. The gradual inclination towards the anti-foreigner right took form as more than 1.1 million asylum seekers poured into year since last September. It also played on a spate of incidents, which involved sexual assault of women on New Year’s eve in Germany by North African migrants.
The referendum was prepared by the anti-immigration Swiss People’s Party that dominates a third of seats in the parliament. It has managed to secure the required number of signatures on it, citing fears that foreigners can have an adverse effect on the Swiss way of life.
The pro-business Free Democrats and liberal-left Social Democrats, opposed SVP’s point of view, saying it’s racist and can affect the country’s relationship with the European Union, the Reuters reported.
A fourth of Switzerland’s 8 million population and about 68 percent of it jail population comprise of foreign residents. Foreigners from EU countries like Italy and Germany and a large number from Africa and the Balkans work at the biggest companies in Switzerland.
The campaign to bring into effect automatic deportation of non-Swiss residents on committing crimes dates back to 2010. The Swiss citizens voted in favour on another binding referendum. The legislation was approved in the parliament along with a “hardship clause” which would enable the judges to put on hold the deportation of people having Swiss roots.
The move had caused great concerns among the foreigners back then. It also prompted Second@s Plus organisation, that represents second and third generation foreigners, to conclude that the referendum meant the foreigners in the country are considered with suspicion, the Swiss Info reported.
“Our priorities should be on public safety, not a criminal’s circumstances,” SVP parliamentary deputy Heinz Brand was quoted as saying by the Reuters. “Our aim isn’t to deport as many people as possible, we simply want to send a message that, if they commit a crime, they’ll face strict consequences.”