Thursday, September 13, 2007 at 11:32 AM

Think America’s immigration plan is racist and unjust? Consider Switzerland’s…

Posted by Anthony L. Hall

Last week Europeans were alarmed by a report in a leading UK newspaper, The Independent, on Switzerland’s draconian immigration laws. In fact, the letter and spirit of these laws are so patently racist and unjust that reporter Paul Vallely was compelled to pose this rhetorical question:

Has Switzerland become Europe’s heart of darkness.

Vallely reports that neo-fascism in this erstwhile “haven of peace and neutrality” is becoming as prevalent amongst Swiss politicians as it is amongst Swiss skinheads. But to appreciate how truly troubling this is, one needs only consider that the level of fascism amongst German politicians (during Hitler’s rise to power) never came close to aping that which existed amongst German Brownshirts (aka SS thugs).

Indeed, even the United Nations has expressed alarm that the Swiss parliament is poised to enact a law calling for:

…the entire family of a criminal under the age of 18 to be deported as soon as sentence is passed.

Now consider that:

Switzerland has the toughest naturalisation rules in Europe. To apply, you must live in the country legally for at least 12 years, pay taxes, and have no criminal record. The application can still be turned down by your local commune which meets to ask “Can you speak German? Do you work? Are you integrated with Swiss people?”

It can also ask, as one commune did of 23-year-old Fatma Karademir – who was born in Switzerland but who under Swiss law is Turkish like her parents – if she knew the words of the Swiss national anthem, if she could imagine marrying a Swiss boy and who she would support if the Swiss football team played Turkey.

Yet, more than 20 per cent of Switzerland’s population, and 25 per cent of its workforce, are (legal) immigrants. More significantly, it enjoys a thriving economy – with enviably low unemployment and a “per capita GDP larger than that of any other Western economy”.

Meanwhile, Swiss claims that these laws are being enacted “For More Security” are rendered even more specious by the fact that violent crime is virtually nonexistent in Switzerland – except on rare occasions when it occurs between immigrants.

Therefore, only good old-fashioned racism can explain the virulent stream of xenophobia now flowing through Switzerland.

But I wonder when it will dawn on the Swiss that deporting so many essential workers is tantamount to cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face. Moreover, as alluded to in the title above, many people have criticized the relatively hospitable provisions in America’s immigration-reform plan as racist and unjust. Therefore, I also wonder what they will think of this Swiss formula…?

Vallely is wrong, however, to suggest that this Swiss strain of the anti-immigration virus is a new phenomenon in Europe, which threatens to infect the rest of the continent. After all, over two years ago, I documented the draconian immigration laws that nearly every other European country was implementing to block perceived dangers posed by the swarm of (Asian, Turkish, Balkan and African) refugees and asylum seekers crossing their borders.

(Incidentally, I documented this in an article on how former European colonies in the Caribbean were grappling with the real dangers posed by the wave of Haitian refugees and asylum seekers washing up on our shores.)

In particular, here’s what I noted in about Switzerland in”The Plague of Haitian Migrants in the Caribbean,” March 31, 2005:

[I]n a radical departure from its tradition of liberal immigration laws, which resulted in immigrants accounting for up to 23 per cent of its total population, Switzerland now has some of the most restrictive immigration laws in Europe. Among these is a law that mandates immigration authorities deny renewal of work permits in great numbers to force thousands of settled immigrants out of the country.

Accordingly, Switzerland is not becoming Europe’s heart of darkness so much as it is beginning to manifest the dark heart that other European countries, including England, have been exhibiting in their dealings with immigrants for years….

That said, there’s no denying Switzerland’s assumption of the vanguard role in descending a new (anti-immigrant) iron curtain across Europe. Indeed, Swiss voters seemed to relish this role when (as reported by BBC News) 67.8 per cent of them ratified new asylum and immigration laws a year ago:

… making it more difficult for refugees to receive assistance in Switzerland and effectively blocking unskilled workers outside Europe from moving to the country.

However, it behooves Hitler’s reformed bankers to consider the international ramifications of now becoming his political heirs….

Related Articles:
US immigration reform
Belated conversion of Hitler’s Swiss bankers
Plague of Haitian refugees in the Caribbean



  1. Sarah March 3, 2008 at 8:34 pm

    As an American student studying in Switzerland, I don’t have any problem comprehending the reasons the Swiss want to reduce immigration. When a fifth to a quarter of your population and work force aren’t ethnically tied to your country, it almost feels like you aren’t living in your country. Perhaps the Swiss are afraid of change, but for good reason. They’ve gone centuries without a civil war (or any war for that matter), so their political systems seem to work for them. It seems a stretch to accuse the Swiss of fascism and Nazism when they are the epitome of democracy. The Swiss people vote four times a year…for policies and ideas, and not for people. Majority rules, plain and simple. They don’t have any of the ridiculous election crap that plagues American democracy. Just because the Swiss are sticking to what works in a time when much of the rest of the world is falling apart doesn’t make them rascist haters. Perhaps it’s out of jealousy of their economy and ability to maintain peace that we are so quick to criticize. While I don’t agree with the racism rampant in the recent political campaing with the image of the sheep, if it works and keeps all of the SWISS happy, the Swiss are, afterall, the most important people in Switzerland. Remember, if Switzerland were to freely open its boarders to anyone who wanted to live here permanently, they’d be so flooded with immigrants that the country’s infrastructure would collapse. So, yes, the racism in their modern politics is wrong, but no, Switzerland is not the heart of darkness in Europe, nor is it becoming that. As long as people still want to move here, the country must still be radiating light.

  2. Martin July 31, 2008 at 1:25 pm

    I am Swiss and my father is an immigrant. I live here in (Zurich) Switzerland in a middle class apartment house, seven apartments, together with first generation immigrant families from Germany, Kyrgyzstan, Georgia and Kosovo. Although there are relevant cultural differences we all learned to live together and to use the same washing machine in the basement and so on. There are no ghettos in Switzerland, even with the fact, that 21 per cent of the population are immigrants with no Swiss citizenship. It is no wonder that, as you say: “a thriving economy” attracts people from other countries. The Swiss just have a pristine fear of foreign rule, just study Swiss History. This is not racism.

  3. PAT October 21, 2009 at 1:10 pm

    I like this idea. What’s split the United States so badly is the immigrants who come to this country and don’t want to immerse.

    As for losing the workers who are immigrants, I’m sure that they come there knowing full well if they break the laws of the country they are out on their keesters!!! Instead, the United States now protects the bad and shoves the victims aside. Prisoners have so many amenities these days–I don’t even know why they’d even want to break out.

  4. Steven December 2, 2009 at 6:25 am

    There was no horror in Europe, Europeans (with the exceptions of the money making elite) think this is a great idea! Europe does not want America’s multiracial model here, why would we want to look like America? The world would be better if America never existed!

    Good on the Swiss and I hope it comes to Germany, Britain, France, Spain, Italy and Scandinavia before its too late, enjoy your multiculturalism America it will be your death :)

  5. Helena December 8, 2009 at 8:00 am

    My parents are both immigrants from Poland and we have lived in Switzerland for more than 20 years. I do not believe the Swiss to be racist, nor do I find the expression “dark heart of Europe” applicable. It is not racist to not want criminals in your country and as a guest in a country you should respect its laws and customs. Considering that 71% of imprisoned criminals are foreigners, I do not blame Swiss people to take precautions in order to lower that number. As Switzerland runs on direct democracy, it is also not surprising that you have to wait for your passport for such a long time. One should be well integrated, familiar with the Swiss culture and the political system, in order to enjoy the privilege of voting. We got our passports after 14 years and we celebrated the occasions with many of our Polish and Swiss friends. My family has not given up its Polish ways, but gained a lot in getting to know and to experience Swiss traditions.

    It might be also of interest that the right wing party (SVP), which is often the motor behind radical immigration legislation, enjoys a broad support by well integrated foreigners. Mainly, because they themselves feel that criminal foreigners reflect badly on foreigners in general. (Personally, I do not support the party as it is to extreme for my taste).

    Switzerland is a country that has much to offer: political stability, a very good public school system, excellent healthcare and in general a very effective public administration. It is a country where public transportation is more widely used than cars and people actually vote for tax increase voluntarily, because they trust their government. If Switzerland offers all that, I do not mind that it requires in return from immigrants to learn one of the official languages, to get accustomed with the political and cultural system, as well as to not abuse the hospitality of the country by criminal activities. I gladly did it and now I am not a foreigner in Switzerland, but I am very happy to call it home.

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