Migration office doles out funding for immigrant integration

More than 100,000 people participated in special integration language classes in 2013 Keystone

This content was published on October 6, 2014 - 18:20 and agencies

Last year, the Federal Migration Office spent some CHF55 million ($57 million) on efforts to integrate foreigners, with much of the funds going towards teaching them a national language and empowering  them to access the Swiss job market.

According to a report published Monday, CHF35.3 million was allocated in 2013 to integrate refugees, with CHF13.4 million going towards  specific integration measures in the cantons, such as “language and education”. More than 100,000 people participated in some 5,000 language classes offered in 2013.

CHF3 million went to fund centres that consult immigrants, employers and authorities about integration measures, while CHF1.2 million went to early intervention programmes to help children of immigrants learn national languages.

The migration office argues such funds are well spent, saving money down the line in the social welfare sector, for example. Most of the funds went to individual cantons, who allocated them further. This is in line with the strategy that began in January 2014, which made integration measures the responsibility individual cantons within a coordinated national network.

Migration Office Director Mario Gattiker wrote in the introduction to the report that the government and cantons had learned from past mistakes,  when workers were sought from abroad but not supported properly when it came to integration.

Gattiker continued that today, integration means welcoming immigrants, informing them of their rights and responsibilities and offering them support in those areas where their own efforts don’t suffice.

He argues that society as a whole can benefit from integration measures that let immigrants know what is expected of them. Issues such as young people not finding an apprenticeship because their last name sounds foreign hurt the Swiss economy as a whole, Gattiker continued, adding that further measures against discrimination are also needed. 

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