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Thousands sign petition for illegal immigrants

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14:25 CEST+02:00

The Swiss government has received a petition calling for it to regularize the status of undocumented foreigners living in the country.

A coalition of more than 100 non-governmental organisations is behind the campaign, with the petition -- signed by 20,000 people -- presented to the government on Thursday. Led by the Sans Papiers movement, the campaign has been underway since last May and also includes trade unions, and centre-left parties such as the Social Democratic Party and the Green Party.

Headlined ‘Stop hypocrisy’, the petition calls for an end to forced expulsions and for undocumented migrants to be given legal status and issued work permits.

According to the organisation Solidarity Without Borders, there are up to 100,000 illegal immigrants living in Switzerland. Their contribution to the work force is well known, but their fundamental rights are denied, the campaigners argued.

Illegal immigrants have received more rights over the past decade, but the fundamental problems remain, according to the campaigners.

Despite repeated requests from the Council of Europe, Switzerland has long refused to collectively change the legal status of undocumented immigrants, says the organisation Solidarity Without Borders, which also points out that current laws make it “almost impossible to regularize citizens individually”, newspaper Le Matin reports.

On October 1st, some 5,000 people demonstrated in the capital Bern calling for an improvement of the situation for illegal immigrants in Switzerland.

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