The cantonal parliament on Tuesday voted against a bill by left-wing MP Jean-Michel Dolivo that proposed the canton should tackle the problem of immigrants without papers in the same way as Geneva’s operation Papyrus, which was revealed to the press at the end of February.
Kept secret since it began in 2015, Papyrus has so far ‘regularized’ nearly 600 illegal workers in the canton of Geneva, with another 300 applications in the pipeline.
Developed over the past six years with the cooperation of federal authorities, it aimed to help such people get Swiss work permits and therefore bring an end to exploitation including low salaries and bad working conditions.
Papyrus is aimed at those who have a job, are financially independent and have lived in the canton for years. Applications are assessed on a case by case basis; if rejected, the applicant must leave the country.
Potentially the scheme could help 13,000 people in Geneva. A few days after it was revealed, some 2,000 turned up to an information evening in Geneva; it was so popular that an estimated 500 people were left outside the building unable to get in.
Dolvio’s proposal for Vaud would have followed the same criteria as Papyrus and could have helped an estimated 12,000 immigrants working without papers in the canton, reported news agencies.
Helping them become legal would put an end to “hypocrisy” by legalizing people who already pay taxes and educate their children in the canton, said the left.
Some on the right criticized the idea, saying it could attract more illegal workers to the area, while others felt there wasn’t currently enough information available on Vaud’s illegal workers to make a decision either way.