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For and against The very different approaches to asylum seekers

Some communities are deciding to pay an opt-out fee rather than house asylum seekers, while others are going beyond the call of duty. (SRF,

More than 13,000 people have applied for asylum in Switzerland this year. They’re given shelter in different cantons around the country. The law states that Swiss communities must take in a certain number of asylum seekers in proportion to the size of their population. But in canton Aargau, villages are allowed to opt out of this obligation.

The community of Hirschthal should provide shelter for three people. The mayor offered room at the local civil protection facility. But the canton decided it wasn’t good enough. Since there were no other places available, the village decided to opt out and paid CHF4,000 per asylum seeker to house them elsewhere. It means the community will not have to take any asylum seekers for a whole year.

The village of Beinwil am See took a different approach and decided to show solidarity and provide humanitarian aid. Instead of opting out, the community chose to provide shelter for six times more people than it was obliged to. Nearly 40 asylum seekers will soon move to the village’s former care centre. The mayor showed that this act of solidarity pays out financially.

Communities in canton Zug are not allowed to pay an opt out fee. So far, Walchwil has only provided five of the 20 spaces it should make available. The Zug cantonal authorities are discussing measures against communities like this that don’t comply with the regulations.

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