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Former civil servants take up cudgels for foreigners

Organisations representing foreign residents have announced plans to form a new body to lobby the government. The groups are made up of former employees of the state commission for foreigners.

The groups used to be represented on the Federal Commission on Foreigners but resigned in January in protest at the government's decision to incorporate it into the police office for foreigners.

They say they intend to set up an umbrella group as an alternative to the old foreigners commission.

Claudio Micheloni, who represents the influential Italian community, said they could not just stand still "in the face of a federal commission that no longer represents foreigners. The idea for the new organisation is based on the precedent of the Swiss Refugee Council. It too was borne out of a conflict with the federal authorities and has shown itself to be very important and is funded by the government."

Micheloni told swissinfo that the groups have been forced to take this step following a breakdown in talks with the authorities. "Our proposal is not to simply set up a shadow commission consisting of the members who resigned. It would instead become a body that is open to all Swiss organisations, including churches and employers, interested in the issue of integration. And it would provide an authoritative voice on all the government's moves in the area of integration policy."
The foreigners' groups and trade unions that resigned from the commission say they are united in their determination to end the stalemate.

swissinfo with agencies

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