The director of the Federal Migration Office, Eduard Gnesa, says Swiss cantons should pursue a "clear line" in integrating foreigners.This content was published on August 5, 2007 - 12:43
Gnesa, who is head of a working group that will put recommendations to the government, told the SonntagsZeitung newspaper that the main focus should be on helping young foreigners.
He said young foreigners had difficulty finding apprenticeships and jobs, and were more likely to commit crime.
Gnesa said integration had to be improved first and foremost through existing structures. He added that the new law on foreigners, which includes instruments such as integration contracts, would help in this respect.
"We advise the cantons not to extend work permits in cases of poor integration," he said.
However, he said cantons should reward those foreigners who integrated well "for example, by giving them a residency permit more quickly".
"It must also be possible to oblige foreigners to make efforts to integrate, for example they must achieve certain marks in language courses or show effort in trying to find a job."
But Gnesa said there should be help for those young foreigners who leave school and have difficulty finding a job. The authorities should support them in finding employment, he said.
"For successful integration, it is vital that the people concerned learn our language and fit into the labour market. This is also true for asylum seekers, who show insufficient rates of employment."
Asked about an idea from Zurich education director Regine Aeppli to oblige parents of problem children to take violence prevention courses, Gnesa said he believed it was a "good suggestion".
"It is right to oblige parents with problem children to take measures and assume their responsibilities - otherwise nothing will happen."
Gnesa also said his working group would advise the government to carry out projects in built-up areas where there were concentrations of foreigners that might present a risk.
Support measures could be taken in the areas of sport, language, local planning and the fight against racism.
Gnesa added that about SFr50 million ($42 million) was spent every year on integrating foreigners.
"Most of the measures that we are requesting from the government can be financed with the existing budgets of the federal authorities," he said.
The government is to discuss the working group's plans after the summer holidays.
swissinfo with agencies
The foreign population of Switzerland in 2006 was 1,523,586 people.
They represent 20.4% of the total population.
Foreigners make up 25.4% of the population in the Italian-language region, 25% in the French-language area and 18.5% in the German-language part.
The Swiss electorate accepted the new law on foreigners with a clear 68% yes vote on September 24, 2006.
It limits immigration for citizens outside the European Union and the European Free Trade Association (Efta) to highly skilled labour.
It also aims to encourage integration, in particular by language courses, while cracking down on human trafficking and marriages of convenience.
Foreigners also have to make efforts towards integration, according to the spirit of the law.
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