Head of Foreigners Commission resigns

The head of the Federal Commission on Foreigners, Fulvio Caccia, has resigned and launched a broadside at the government over their commitment to integration, after his department was swallowed up by the Federal Foreigners Office.

This content was published on January 12, 2000

The head of the Federal Commission on Foreigners, Fulvio Caccia, has resigned after his department was swallowed up by the Federal Foreigners Office. He stepped down on the day the government pledged five million francs for next year to help integration efforts.

Caccia said he had telephoned the justice and police minister, Ruth Metzler, to tell her he was stepping down with immediate effect, after his commission, which deals with the integration of foreigners, was incorporated into the Federal Foreigners Office, whose remit includes running the Police Office for Foreigners and issuing permits.

Caccia, who'd been in his post for more than nine years, had called for his office to be more independent, and had criticised what he saw as the slow pace of integration efforts, and the failure of the federal authorities to respond to demographic changes in Switzerland.

Once the bulk of foreigners were made up of immigrant workers from the Mediterranean. Now many more come from the Balkans, Africa and Asia. One in five people in Switzerland is foreign.

The government says its decision to bring the commission under the umbrella of the office for foreigners will allow all issues relating to foreigners - with the exception of asylum - to be dealt with by a single office. It believes it will also make its mandate of funding all integration projects easier to carry out.

It's a view not shared by Caccia. He said the government decision amounted to a denial of all his proposals for improving the position of foreigners in society. He said it would be difficult to persuade foreigners that an office that carried out police tasks would want to occupy itself with their integration.

The cabinet also ignored a petition by 650 foreigners' associations pleading for the commission to be kept independent.

Caccia's resignation came on the same day that the government announced that it had earmarked five million francs for next year to improve the integration of foreigners in Switzerland. The money will go towards projects by cantonal and local authorities. Caccia's commission had asked for 15 million francs.

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