Zurich, Basel to unveil identity cards for undocumented people

Authorities in the Swiss cantons of Zurich and Basel City have announced plans to roll out a specialised identity card, which can be used by undocumented people.

A clocktower in the Swiss city of Zurich. Image: Pixabay
A clocktower in the Swiss city of Zurich. Image: Pixabay

Voters in Zurich approved the move on Sunday, which required a loan of 3.2 million euros. 

The decision to approve the card was narrow, with only 51.7 percent of people approving the card. 

The card will confirm the person’s identity and place of residence, however it will not contain any information about origin and residency status. 

The card had widespread support from all major Swiss political parties other than the right-wing SVP, which called it “worthless” and “illegal”. 

In addition to making life safer for Zurich’s undocumented immigrants, the card will allow them to access a wide range of services, including council services, thereby promoting integration. 

The card also makes things easier on an administrative basis for Zurich authorities. 

“The Züri City Card combines previous cards on one ID card (e.g. Badi-Abo, Theaterpass), creates secure access to online services and saves costs for the authorities.”

EXPLAINED: How Zurich has simplified the Swiss citizenship process

There will however be a delay with the new card. It is not expected to be rolled out for five years due to the time it takes to create the legal framework and work out data protection and technical issues. 

Basel to adopt similar card

The canton of Basel City has announced a similar measure to protect the estimated 4,000-8,000 undocumented people living in the small canton. 

Called the Basel City Card, an initiative has been announced with a campaign to begin in autumn. 

Like the Zurich card, the Basel edition will be put to a vote. 

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Zurich mandates organic food for hospitals, schools and cafeterias

Hospitals, schools, canteens and a range of other venues in Zurich will need to ensure the majority of their food is organic, after the council passed an initiative.

Zurich mandates organic food for hospitals, schools and cafeterias

The initiative, passed on Wednesday by 71 votes to 41, stipulates that at least 50 percent of the offerings must be organic. 

It applies to retirement and care centres, hospitals, day care centres, schools, canteens and cafeterias. 

QUIZ: Would you pass Zurich’s Swiss citizenship test?

Environment and Health Director Andreas Hauri acknowledged that there may be some problems in converting over to organic food, but said he was “convinced we can still increase the proportion”. 

The city said it will now begin to examine how it can boost the proportion of organic foods to the required levels. 

The city’s nutrition strategy already calls for a greater amount of food from the surrounding region, but had previously been silent on the amount of organic food that should be included. 

While the initiative passed, there was some opposition from the right-wing Swiss People’s Party (SVP). 

The SVP said the change was “far removed from decency and reality”, arguing that it sent the wrong signals to developing countries. 

READ MORE: Will Switzerland be able to feed itself in the future?

The initiative is “an affront to people in poor countries who do not know how to feed themselves” said the SVP’s Johann Widmer. 

The Free Democratic Party (FDP) also opposed the change, saying it was unclear how the new standards would be implemented. 

Martina Zürcher asked how the 50 percent requirement should be measured. 

“In kilograms? In francs?” she said.