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Integration should become mandatory

The new justice minister, Simonetta Sommaruga, wants to see integration measures for immigrants made mandatory.

In an interview with the SonntagsZeitung newspaper, the recently-elected cabinet minister from the centre-left Social Democratic Party said the approval or extension of residency permits should be closely linked to the efforts immigrants make to integrate themselves.

“Compulsory schooling must be respected. Children should attend all courses and exceptions made on religious or other grounds, for example in swimming classes, should no longer be possible,” Sommaruga told the SonntagsZeitung.

“The approval or extension of residency permits or the withdrawal of this right for anyone in violation of the integration rules is not only a way to apply pressure but is also in the interest of one and all,” the justice minister said. “Everyone living here should be able to stand on their own two feet.”

Sommaruga said it would be possible to implement the stricter requirements as part of a proposal the government has put forward to counter a plan by rightwing parties to automatically deport foreigners convicted of crimes. The issue comes to a nationwide vote on November 28.

Her support of the counter proposal, which restricts deportation to cases involving the most serious crimes, has put her at odds with her own party.

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