New Swiss Immigration Law Clears Final Hurdle

Members of the conservative right Swiss People’s Party held up signs that read “breach of the constitution” and “mass immigration continues”.Members of the conservative right Swiss People’s Party held up signs that read “breach of the constitution” and “mass immigration continues”.

The Swiss Parliament has approved a law aiming to curb immigration by giving priority to local workers at open jobs.

The law stops short of imposing quotas as Swiss voters demanded in a 2014 referendum and will hopefully help Switzerland avoid a clash with Brussels.

The Senate approved the revision of the immigration law—24 in favor and five against—and the House passed it 98 votes to 67 with 33 abstentions on Friday.

In the end, the parliamentary majority voted to focus on prioritizing jobs instead of quotas to avoid a conflict with the EU that many feared could end with the cancellation of bilateral accords governing areas from trade to research funding, Expatica reported.

The legislation passed by parliament contains measures to prioritize Swiss job-seekers over those from EU countries, such as requiring employers to post vacant positions at local unemployment offices before advertising them elsewhere.

The penalty for not doing so can be up to $38,900. Employers must also invite candidates who meet their criteria and who are registered at the unemployment office for an interview.

Employers must then communicate their final hiring decision to the unemployment office.

The new measures will be restricted to parts of Switzerland and job sectors with unemployment rates higher than the average, currently at 3.3%.

In addition, border regions such as Ticino and the area near Geneva will be able to appeal to the Cabinet for exceptions to the law that may complicate the situation for the more than 300,000 cross-border workers who come into Switzerland from neighboring countries every day.

  People’s Party Cries Foul

Members of the conservative right Swiss People’s Party, which had proposed the February 2014 referendum on quotas, argued up until the final vote that the latest parliamentary proposal violates the Constitution because it does not contain quotas and therefore fails to apply the will of the people.

The People’s Party has said that if the Cabinet does not intervene by February 9 with a version of the law conforming to the 2014 initiative, it will launch a new initiative “as soon as possible” to dissolve the bilateral accord with the European Union concerning the free movement of people.

Close to 1.4 million EU citizens live in Switzerland and more than 450,000 Swiss citizens currently reside in EU countries.


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