How to break a perceived stalemate in Switzerland’s immigration policy? More than 100 ideas gathered in a crowd-sourcing project are awaiting the verdict of the public by the beginning of next month.
The Foraus foreign policy think-tank launched its project in April as a Swiss novelty.
Over the past three months the website served as a public platform to collect all the proposals and the think-tank organised workshops, so called policy-hacks, in seven Swiss cities, including Geneva, Basel, Zurich, Bern and Lausanne, to generate fresh ideas.
They were attended mainly by representatives of civil society, international organisations and students, according to project leader Jonas Nakonz.
The trilingual effort – in German and French and some English - has resulted in 101 proposals to be put to a public vetting before 15 of them, chosen by an expert panel, are discussed in Zurich, on September 7.
Foraus has also pledged to promote the winning ideas through a book publication.
The think-tank had called for a fresh policy approach to immigration issues. “We’ll achieve a common vision for the migration-nation Switzerland,” it states on its website.
Nakonz says the response covered a broad range of proposals.
“From rather small but very concrete ideas such as having official interviews with asylum-seekers recorded – to more visionary proposals such as granting political rights to all residents," he explains.
Other proposals described on the crowd sourcing platform include “bicultural ambassadors”, an initiative to coordinate migration projects, the introduction of immigration system similar to the Green Card in the United States or an advisory service unit in countries where refugees come from.
Several suggestions are aimed at engaging schools, researchers and the media in helping to create an environment favourable to guaranteeing protection and perspectives for refugees and maintaining “a shared feeling of community in a globalised society”.
A striking number of proposals focus on ways to ease integration of immigrants into Swiss society, notably by granting access to the labour market.
This shows that asylum seekers “not only need protection but, above all, must also have a long-term perspective and the opportunity to participate in society” as Laurence Herzog writes in a blog entry on the project site.
For his part, the Foraus president, Nicola Forster, says Switzerland immigration policy needs a new vision.
“We have to consider migration as an opportunity,” he says.