Swiss canton accused of being ‘too strict’ with residence permits for foreigners

Swiss canton accused of being 'too strict' with residence permits for foreigners
Ticino shares a border with Italy through which over 67,000 people come to work in the Swiss canton. Photo by AFP
By requiring foreigners to show their criminal records before being allowed to live in Ticino, cantonal authorities are violating a bilateral treaty that Switzerland signed with the EU, critics say.

Ticino’s practice of checking criminal records of immigrants wanting to live in the canton “helps us to identify people who have committed serious crimes”, Norman Gobbi, the president of the local government, said in an interview with SRF broadcaster. 

“This is also a protective measure against the influence of organized crime, which is gaining a foothold throughout Switzerland,” he added.

However, many left-of-centre groups argue that Ticino’s measures are not only “too strict”, but that they also violate the terms of the Free Movement of Persons Agreement (AFMP), which gives EU and EFTA nationals the right to live and work in Switzerland.

Ticino enacted this requirement in 2015 — the only canton to do so, and has refused to nullify it since then.

READ MORE: EU immigration: Switzerland’s foreign workers in numbers 

“We informed the Ticino authorities that this measure contradicts the AFMP and to refrain from this practice ”, Lukas Rieder, spokesman for the State Secretariat for Migration said.

However, after analysing the situation, the Federal Council determined that there could be a possible solution for this impasse.

“In the EU, there is a program that allows the exchange of such criminal records”, Rieder said.

“Switzerland is trying to check whether participating in this program would respond to Ticino's concerns without violating the AFMP rules”.

If that is the case, other cantons would be able to enforce the same requirement as well.

Nearly 28 percent of Ticino’s residents are foreign nationals. 

Additionally, about 67,000 cross-border workers from Italy commute to their jobs in Ticino each day. 

 

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