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Citizens pick payments over asylum seekers

By voting down a proposed budget, citizens of the town of Oberwil-Lieli outside Zurich have decided not to accommodate asylum seekers in a back-and-forth issue that has divided the community.

The town’s voters rejected a budget that had specifically left out asylum seeker payments, thereby indicating that they want the payments to be re-introduced. The budget was voted down on Sunday by a margin of 579 to 525 votes, with a voter turnout of 68.9%.  

The issue has divided the town since last year, when a budget proposal was introduced to pay CHF290,000 ($302,000) to avoid taking in asylum seekers.

Oberwil-Lieli resident Johanna Gündel helped launch a movement to scrap the payment from the budget, and the town assembly voted in her favour in November 2015.

Sunday’s vote took place after another town resident launched a public vote to reject removing the payments from the budget. 

Formally, the decision is also not final, as it simply means a new budget must now be presented to the town assembly.

Wealthy town

But supporters of a liberal asylum policy told the Blick newspaper that they would give up their fight against asylum hardliners, including the mayor.

Oberwil-Lieli is one of the wealthiest communes in canton Aargau, located about 20 kilometres (12 miles) southwest of Zurich.

It is not the only commune to have taken the canton up on its offer to pay CHF110 per day per asylum seeker they choose not to accommodate. By the end of March, the 213 communes in canton Aargau were to have taken in an additional 314 asylum seekers, adding to the 2,530 already being housed in the canton.

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