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Illegal immigrants take their case to Bern

Demonstrators want residency rights for immigrants who are no longer entitled to remain in Switzerland

(Keystone)

Supporters of illegal immigrants seeking residency rights in Switzerland have taken their demands to the justice minister, Ruth Metzler. The move comes two weeks after a group of illegal immigrants ended their occupation of a church in Fribourg.

A delegation of 50 people travelled to Bern on Wednesday to give a list of their demands to Metzler. They are seeking residency rights for immigrants who are no longer entitled to remain in Switzerland, as well as an end to deportations.

They also want equal working conditions, fair salaries, and social cover for all workers in Switzerland, as well as an extension of collective bargaining agreements.

The move comes after a group of illegal immigrants and their supporters vacated a church in Fribourg after occupying it for 12 weeks. The immigrants left the building before the police moved in and took up residency in an arts centre in the city.

The federal authorities have ruled out any kind of blanket amnesty for illegal immigrants. Some 300,000 people are thought to be living illegally in Switzerland, many of them holding down jobs.

A recent survey showed that 60 per cent of French-speaking Swiss support granting residency status to illegal immigrants who have lived and worked in Switzerland for several years.

swissinfo with agencies


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