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black sheep aus!
September 2, 2007 5:57 PM   Subscribe

The nationalist Swiss People's Party (who garnered 26% of the vote in the last elections) is proposing a deportation policy reminiscent of Nazi-era practices. Under the plan, entire families would be expelled if their children are convicted of a violent crime, drug offense or benefits fraud. And get a load of their black sheep poster campaign, or their 2004 poster, with the dreaded black hand reaching for (gasp!) a Swiss passport. Yodel-odel-ay-eeeeeee-who?
posted by flapjax at midnite (75 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
Wow.
posted by delmoi at 6:05 PM on September 2, 2007


I've been to Switzerland quite a few times, and loved it so much I often talked (not very seriously) about living there one day. My mother said that the swiss did not look kindly upon anyone looking to stay permanently in Switzerland. At the time I didn't buy it - I stand corrected.

This is really very sad.
posted by phrontist at 6:09 PM on September 2, 2007


I feel neutral about this.
posted by stavrogin at 6:10 PM on September 2, 2007 [12 favorites]


The Swiss as xenophobic fascists? Well whoodathinkit, eh?
posted by Meatbomb at 6:11 PM on September 2, 2007


That's it. I'm burning my cuckoo clock.
posted by hal9k at 6:15 PM on September 2, 2007


Gee, I'm glad that we don't have any politicians in the states who would exploit anti-immigrant hatred for political gain.
posted by octothorpe at 6:20 PM on September 2, 2007


There is a certain red neck quality to the Swiss typical of mountain people - insular, xenophobic. It's strange because they otherwise seem worldly, wealthy and sophisticated, the standard of living is much better than the US. But during my time near Geneva, the locals were suspicious almost hostile on first approach - or maybe it was my t-shirt ("Mean people kick ass").
posted by stbalbach at 6:21 PM on September 2, 2007


Not surprised. This is why anyone who has spent significant time in Europe snickers when they hear people talk about how enlightened Europeans are compared to Americans. Extreme nationalists, black metal church burners and people who think genetically modified vegetables are going to kill them are the functional equivalents of Protestant fundamentalists.
posted by Crotalus at 6:22 PM on September 2, 2007 [12 favorites]


They'll take Ausländer gold at market value, though.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:27 PM on September 2, 2007


Is that 26% coming from all cantons, all language groups or is it concentrated in specific communities?
posted by jason's_planet at 6:34 PM on September 2, 2007


The Swiss immigration policy has been incredibly draconian for a very, very long time. Switzerland is much stranger than most people realize.
posted by blacklite at 6:45 PM on September 2, 2007


Lets see. Switzerland began the 20th century, as it began all previous centuries, as an impoverished mountainous land with beautiful vistas and not many ways to make a living.

They established themselves as a place where money could be left safely and discreetly. Much money searching for safety and discreetness ended up there.

Then there were some wars, that wiped out sizeable numbers of the owners of that money. The war also wiped out many records of ownership.

And suddenly, in the middle of the 20th century, Switzerland was a prosperous country.

Amazing, isn't it? Yodel-a-hee-hoo
posted by hexatron at 6:46 PM on September 2, 2007 [2 favorites]


Visited Switzerland often over five years in the 1970's, travelled from one end to the other too many times to count, enjoying the landscapes, had a Swiss boyfriend in Zurich and sadly grew to intensely dislike the locals, not just the Swiss Germans, who are, in my experience, very narrow-minded, deeply lonely people. I've thought of the country as one of the poorest places on Earth because their lack of warmth or ease of mind, as well as being a place where the corrupt and greedy hide their money.

When heroin addiction became rampant among white middle class kids there in the 80's that didn't surprise me at all. Neither does this grotesque and explicit racism. But it's disturbing it's happening among the supposedly educated.

Myth: Getting tough on crime reduces crime.

Fact: States with the toughest law enforcement have the most crime.
posted by nickyskye at 6:53 PM on September 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


Switzerland is odd. One of the more backward cantons only gave women the vote in 1990.
posted by Aloysius Bear at 6:56 PM on September 2, 2007


Fact: States with the toughest law enforcement have the most crime.

Fact: Correlation does not equal causation. The paramaters of effective deterrence and the extent to which it works is a hotly debated issue among criminologists.
posted by Crotalus at 6:58 PM on September 2, 2007 [5 favorites]


Last time I was in Switzerland my German massuese was chuckling about how they run adverts on TV saying "send the Germans home!" yet have trouble filling all their menial jobs and run adverts in Germany saying "come work in Switzerland".

I couldn't chuckle about it, the ads and general xenophobia left a nasty taste -- except for a weird black comedy in that it is (largely) Swiss v. the world, not v. Blacks or v. Jews or v. anything else, except ... well, v. everybody.
posted by bonaldi at 7:08 PM on September 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


I wish the blatantly racist party in the US only got 26%.
posted by DU at 7:09 PM on September 2, 2007 [3 favorites]


(which of course this link contradicts, but it certainly wasn't the experience of all the non-Swiss residents I spoke to -- they just felt hated for not being Swiss)
posted by bonaldi at 7:10 PM on September 2, 2007


Well at least it's not Austria.
posted by Artw at 7:12 PM on September 2, 2007


Edelweiss, Edelweiss
Every morning you greet me
Small and white, clean and bright
You look happy to meet me

Maids, valets, ho's: take your brooms, then go;
Groom the snow. (Swiss? Never!)

Edelweiss, Edelweiss
Bless my homeland forever

posted by rob511 at 7:16 PM on September 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


I seriously doubt that the Swiss Peoples Party is going anywhere anytime soon. Sure, this is a great way to rabble-rouse the pissed off poorer class by scape-goating immigrants, but I'm pretty sure this will pass.

If it doesn't, then it might set a precedence and a trend. (some) Immigrants have sure been pissing of Europeans in the last few years. I haven't seen anything about Switzerland though.
posted by snsranch at 7:17 PM on September 2, 2007


the pissed off poorer class

That's the usual culprit for this kind of thing (see the BNP in the UK, or the impoverished East Germans that have been joining neo-nazi organisations), but I'm not sure such a thing exists in Switzerland. It's like the worlds first middle-class only country.
posted by Artw at 7:21 PM on September 2, 2007


Fact: Correlation does not equal causation. The paramaters of effective deterrence and the extent to which it works is a hotly debated issue among criminologists.

Good point.
posted by nickyskye at 7:27 PM on September 2, 2007


You know who else was against immigrants?

That's right, Jorg Haider.
posted by djgh at 7:29 PM on September 2, 2007


You know who else was against immigrants?

How long have you got?
posted by pompomtom at 7:47 PM on September 2, 2007 [5 favorites]


A former friend of mine lived in Geneva for years and years. Did not have one nice thing to say about the Swiss, and found them shockingly anti-Semitic and pretty much anti-everyone else, too.
posted by dilettante at 7:58 PM on September 2, 2007


I'll have Federer take care of this.
posted by aerotive at 8:17 PM on September 2, 2007


The gnomes!
posted by hortense at 8:28 PM on September 2, 2007


Fact: Correlation does not equal causation. The paramaters of effective deterrence and the extent to which it works is a hotly debated issue among criminologists

Fact: bears eat beets. Beets. Bears. Battlestar Galactica.
posted by jonson at 8:29 PM on September 2, 2007 [6 favorites]


Oh, I just remembered. There's actually a law in Florida such that people will get kicked out of government housing if anyone in their family gets convicted of a drug crime.

But for some reason, It didn't apply to Jeb Bush when his daughter got convicted for smoking crack or whatever.

So that's kind of similar, but I don't think they used cute racist cartoons to promote it.
posted by delmoi at 8:29 PM on September 2, 2007 [2 favorites]


I agree that the temptation to pun ("schaffen"=create, "Schaff"=sheep) should have been resisted in that second poster, but I'm not sure I'm ready to pile on to the Helviticaphobia here quite yet. A little under a quater of the people who live in Switzerland weren't born there, nearly double the U.S. figure (based on this from a quick google search). It's easy to look down from your liberal high horse (especially if, as in my case, that horse is stabled in a lily-white American suburb) and tell Europeans to welcome major, even unprecedented, demographic changes with multi-culti bonhomie, but I don't think it's a particularly profound position, or a fair one.

Switzerland is small, and has had to fight hard to keep its languages, its institutions, and its independence. Switzerland is not a free-wheeling melting pot; it's an historically diverse place where calibrating inter-ethnic coexistence and power-sharing has been the work of centuries, not years.

It's a country that takes money from vicious dictators and collaborated with the Nazis (although the latter is not a particularly uncommon sin in Europe). But it doesn't have a history of rapacious turf-grabbing imperialism, and it's not implicated in the Modern West's two other original sins, the slave trade and native genocide in the New World. Therefore, and I realize that this is more of a associational leap than a reasoned argument, if the Swiss electorate doesn't feel like opening up its welfare state and Apline grandeur to all comers (and only one of those hands reaching for a Swiss passport was black--presumably the other three belonged to a German, a Pole, and an Italian) I may be disappointed in its lack of charity but I don't blame it.
posted by sy at 8:31 PM on September 2, 2007 [5 favorites]


Alpine grandeur. Jiminy.
posted by sy at 8:32 PM on September 2, 2007


You know who else was against immigrants?

couldn't have been - he WAS an immigrant
posted by pyramid termite at 8:38 PM on September 2, 2007


couldn't have been - he WAS an immigrant

Hey, but, y'know, self-loathing and all...
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:41 PM on September 2, 2007


I'm not sure I entirely disagree with this.

Well, maybe not the deportation of whole families for the errors of one person, but I'd likely be just fine deporting landed immigrants (and illegals) immediately after they are convicted of a felony, and refusing them legal entry afterwards. If they are the sole breadwinner of their family, I'd also give them a choice of taking the kids with them or leaving them with a guardian.

I just don't see any valid reason to allow immigrants (not citizens) to stay if they commit serious crimes.
posted by Kickstart70 at 8:43 PM on September 2, 2007


Devil's advocate: Why should citizens be allowed to stay in a country where they are found guilty of a felony? What is it about citizenship that affords hope of rehabilitation, over an Ausländer?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:47 PM on September 2, 2007


Another vote here for not so surprised.

I was living in Geneva in 1990, and actually, the canton of Appenzell voted down the proposal to give women the vote. At that point the federal government stepped in.

Weird nation. Good chocolate.
posted by girandole at 9:12 PM on September 2, 2007


I think the stink is over the fact that "innocent" family members are proposed to be kicked out too. I don't see a big deal with that either. Although the SVP is very rightish, they're not asking for blood or first born sons. They're asking for immigrants to be law-abiding.

I admit, the similarity to National Socialist propaganda is pretty stinky too, but talking about these little factions is like talking about the factions in Iraq: nothings happening anytime soon.

Nice post and thread, I hope they work it out over there.
posted by snsranch at 9:13 PM on September 2, 2007


I don't think anyone is seriously arguing that non-citizens should be allowed to stay in a country if they've been convicted of a felony. Certainly that's not the case in the U.S.

The problem is kicking out people related to those who are convicted, presumably people sharing their skintones, if you know what I mean.

Why should citizens be allowed to stay in a country where they are found guilty of a felony?

Well where would they go? I mean in many countries you lose your citizenship if you become a citizen of another country. And what about people born in that country? Where would they go? Unless you can come up with a good answer to those questions I don't even think it's worthwhile to try and seriously engage. If you're a citizen of a country, you're that country's problem, for better or worse.
posted by delmoi at 9:15 PM on September 2, 2007


Good chocolate.

You think? I find it much too sweet, and it's almost all really milky, milky milk chocolate. I think it's the Belgians who really have the chocolate thing going on. Just a personal preference, you understand. [NOT MILK CHOCOLATIST]

Well, maybe a little bit [MILK CHOCOLATIST]
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:21 PM on September 2, 2007 [3 favorites]


I strongly suspect that this is an extreme position taken by the party so that they can later "compromise" within their coalition government to a more moderate position -- like automatic deportation of all felony offenders.

Note that in their rhetoric what seems to be the point of pain is that so few felony offenders are actually deported, despite that being the law. (Which, I might add, is also the law in the US and most other countries, for good reason.)

I'm not defending it, but it smacks of a cheap trick to win points with the far-right electorate whilst putting oneself in a position to later win points from moderates by seeming conciliatory, while in the end getting exactly what was desired at the beginning. It's not exactly rare.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:28 PM on September 2, 2007


I can understand any conservative people wanting to retain/preserve/protect their age-old national identity in the face of globalization and modern multiculturist pressures.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 9:31 PM on September 2, 2007


delmoi, you make a very good point there. I wouldn't say that I advocate what is proposed, but I do find it to be kind of agreeable.

In the case of family members being deported, it sounds like a good reason for families to be accountable for each other. That would be good advice for any family visiting or immigrating abroad.

The birth-right citizenship is a different story. I would submit that if I have a newborn with citizenship in a new country, I won't be screwing it up by associating with criminals. As a USian of foreign extraction (Pollock) I know that my grandfolks worked very hard to learn English and to obey the laws and traditions of their new country.
posted by snsranch at 9:33 PM on September 2, 2007


"Although the SVP is very rightish, they're not asking for blood or first born sons. They're asking for immigrants to be law-abiding."

No, they're asking for immigrants, typically working hard in low paid jobs and unable to devote the kind of parental care that culture-shocked kids need, to exercise a degree of control over their grown or teenage children that Swiss natives are not required to.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 9:47 PM on September 2, 2007 [2 favorites]


In the case of family members being deported, it sounds like a good reason for families to be accountable for each other.

What do you mean? Deporting families would be by definition make make family members accountable for each other. Perhaps you mean something else? Like accountable to each other? But obviously people can only be accountable to each other by mutual consent, as much as they might want to control what their family members, they cannot, and as much as they might want to know if they're doing anything shady, they may be lied too. This law would punish people for things they have no control over.
posted by delmoi at 9:47 PM on September 2, 2007


Nothing to see here. The SVP needs to pay lip service to his more conservative electors - basically the "traditional" cantons that make up for the biggest chunk of the SVP electorate.
We had weird proposal from SVP in the past - I remember one where Taxi Drivers would be turned police informants on the spot. No one of this proposals ever make it to law, because the West cantons (which are no-go for the SVP) always tank it at the referendum.
But at least Mr. Blocher (the SVP chief) can always cry "I was right but the links did not want it" and save face with his peers. In fact Mr. Blocher, owner of a large chemical company, is a funny character - in public he always screams "no to the European Union / stop Immigration" and the like, in private he profits big from the Agreement with the European Community and the relaxed custom regulations.
So relax people, and by the way, "foreigner" does not mean German / American / Italian, it actually means "citizen of former Jugoslavia". The term shifts with the years (in the 50's was foreigner=italian). I guess it was too much even for the SVP to write "kick out the jugos" ....
posted by elcapitano at 10:32 PM on September 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


For such a xenophobiic society, it's odd how diverse and inclusive their pocketknives are.
posted by fandango_matt at 10:41 PM on September 2, 2007 [6 favorites]


delmoi and joe's_spleen. I agree with you guys in theory, but we're lacking definition here. It isn't clear whether they are proposing the kicking out of immediate family, cousins etc. That makes a difference.

I see this as how I run my own house. If you suck, you're gone. Are your friends sticking around after you're gone? No. It's lame, but it's guilty by association.

Forgive me guys, I'm just being the devil's advocate too and I really don't advocate those means. But it is worth beating to death.
posted by snsranch at 10:42 PM on September 2, 2007


Why should citizens be allowed to stay in a country where they are found guilty of a felony?
Because they are citizens. I became a citizen of Australia 20 years ago, thus guaranteeing that I had exactly the same rights as any other Australian citizen. Becoming a citizen means becoming an equal citizen. Staying out of trouble with the law is a pre-requisite to citizenship, but once you've been approved as "the sort of person" who deserves to be the citizen of a country, then you're subject to the same laws and punishments as anyone else with the same status. Your place of birth should be irrelevant. Laws can't say "You're a citizen of this country, with the same responsiblities and duties as all other citzens, but we'll punish you differently from those citzens who were born here, because they're... better."
I'm not really sure these guys are agruing against Swiss citizens remaining in the country, though - I think they're talking about non-nationalised migrants.

And sorry for using the word "citizen" so often
posted by bunglin jones at 10:47 PM on September 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm not really sure these guys are agruing against Swiss citizens remaining in the country, though - I think they're talking about non-nationalised migrants.

You're right. I'm just wondering why it matters if you're a citizen or not, as far as kicking you out of the country for committing a felony. If you can't follow the rules, I don't see why it matters whether or not you're a citizen, as far as the punishment goes. I'm just curious why a legal classification like citizenship should reduce punishment.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:01 PM on September 2, 2007


They are talking about the "resident aliens" (if this is the correct term in the U.S.) - means holder of a "B" or "C" permit but no Swiss citizens.
The idea is to kick out all the family members (which are non-citizens of course) if someone commit a criminal offence. So you get rid of complete criminal clans (which are supposedly often based on the family) out of the country.
But as I said this is just hot air.
And btw every country has a revocation policy for aliens-turned-criminals - it is the family bit that add some Swiss folklore to the story.
posted by elcapitano at 11:05 PM on September 2, 2007


I'm just wondering why it matters if you're a citizen or not, as far as kicking you out of the country for committing a felony.

Well, in the case of Australia, it mattered a great deal both to those who were transported, and to the people who were already living in the places they were transported to.

Unless you are making some distinction between native-born citizens and other citizens, in which case, I would say that such a second-class citizenship is a) not really citizenship at all as I understand it and b) a deeply, wrongly discriminatory legal status.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 11:05 PM on September 2, 2007


I think it's the Belgians who really have the chocolate thing going on. Just a personal preference, you understand. [NOT MILK CHOCOLATIST]

So I asked the [Belgian] women to come up with the names of any small companies, or even just one, like ScharffenBerger, Amano, and Theo in the US, that are making their own chocolate in small quantities in their country, and they didn't know what to say. Nothing. Pas de reponse. When I asked which chocolate shops they liked in Belgium, they started reeling off a list of places that were part of the large industrial chains, a couple were foreign-owned and not even Belgian.
posted by vacapinta at 11:07 PM on September 2, 2007


I'm just wondering why it matters if you're a citizen or not, as far as kicking you out of the country for committing a felony.

I really could have been clearer before. Sorry. What I'm trying to say is that a citizen shouldn't be able to be kicked out of the country since they are in their own country. Since all citizens (be they native- or foreign-born) should be treated equally, deportation just cannot fit into the justice system.
posted by bunglin jones at 11:20 PM on September 2, 2007


From the article: Similar practices occurred during Stalin's purges in the early days of the Soviet Union and the 1966-76 Cultural Revolution in China, when millions were persecuted for their alleged ideological failings.

Familial and kinship liability has a history that stretches back much further into the past than the twentieth century totalitarian states. It was used extensively in shogunal Japan and was fairly widespread in many premodern societies, whether (as in Japan) codified into the law or practiced informally. Associating it exclusively with the twentieth century totalitarians, particularly the Nazis, is intellectually sloppy or dishonest or both. 'The Nazis did something like this' isn't a valid argument against this any more than it is against a national highway system or animal welfare laws. It's just needless sensationalism.

That said, while I can't say that I'm entirely opposed to this sort of legislation--in the form of, say, holding parents liable for the actions of their minor children--it does seem to be little more than an adjunct to an (apparently quite popular) campaign of xenophobia. I don't know what sort of legal status immigrants have in Switzerland, but do the Swiss have a constitutional conception of equality before the law? If so, that would probably sink any law of this sort.
(Honestly, I'm surprised that, as the article notes without verification, foreigners make up 20% of the Swiss population. I always assumed it was a country with tight immigration restrictions.)

That said, I am also one of those people in the United States who supports greater restrictions on immigration, particularly illegal immigration. I can see parallels with the above situation in that anti-immigration types are being reviled as racists by a mainstream left that has long since abandoned the New Deal coalition for 'identity politics.' Of course, some who are opposed to immigration do embrace it as code for keeping-the-brown-people-out. For me, however, coming from a blue-collar union family, I'm far more concerned with the continuing influx of cheap labor (legal or not) driving existing unskilled and semi-skilled laborers into economic unviability. In a country with a stagnant or declining manufacturing base, mass immigration is pernicious; it does nothing except erode the living standards of those who are least able to absorb the blow, the sorts of people that the left used to fight for.

When the Republicans quashed the immigration reform bill supported by an unholy union of Congressional Democrats and the Bush White House, the pundits called it a mistake that would lose the GOP the 'Hispanic vote' for a generation. Maybe I just don't give ethnicity-based politics the credence it deserves, but I really can't see an immigrant from Cuba or Guatemala being particularly upset that an illegal alien from Mexico can't become a citizen.
posted by Makoto at 11:24 PM on September 2, 2007 [2 favorites]


What I'm trying to say is that a citizen shouldn't be able to be kicked out of the country since they are in their own country.

Well, there are crimes where you can be stripped of citizenship and deported (for example, you commit treason or are a former war criminal).

I should indicate that I don't agree with this policy.

I'm just asking why a felony that would, for example, have someone deported, shouldn't also have a citizen denaturalized.

Despite having committed the same crime (which hurts the same people), there is something about being a citizen that affords that individual a lesser punishment.

Either the distinction being granted is arbitrary (just owning a passport is enough), or it is because there is something about being a citizen that makes him or her more readily rehabilitated, and ready to re-enter society? Or some other distinction?

Just trying to puzzle out why being a citizen means a lesser punishment for the same crime against the state.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:30 PM on September 2, 2007


In the United States expatriation must be a voluntary act, carried out by formal renunciation before a U.S. government official or by becoming a citizen of another country or by taking a foreign oath of allegiance. These are the only grounds for expatriation allowed under the Constitution as interpreted by the Supreme Court.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:49 PM on September 2, 2007


I'm just asking why a felony that would, for example, have someone deported, shouldn't also have a citizen denaturalized

Are native-born citizens deported? Where are they sent? I'm curious as I've never heard of this happening. And isn't stripping someone of their citizenship the same as denaturalisation in the case of foreign-born citizens? (And I'll admit I wasn't aware that citizenship could be revoked. I wonder if Australian Citizenship can be revoked...)

Either the distinction being granted is arbitrary (just owning a passport is enough), or it is because there is something about being a citizen that makes him or her more readily rehabilitated, and ready to re-enter society?

I think having a passport IS enough, and since getting that passport means having to be subject to a certain amount of scrutiny, it's not really arbitrary. My understanding is that non-citizens aren't necessarily less readily rehabilitated, it's just that their rehabilitation isn't the state's responsiblity. Rehabilitation and/or punishment of citizens is the state's responsiblity.

Sorry, Blazecock, but I've just asked more questions and get the feeling I've not really helped you find the answers you're after.
posted by bunglin jones at 11:55 PM on September 2, 2007


The way I think of it, BP, is that it's analogous to family. You can't be kicked out of a family. And once adopted, you can't be un-adopted.

With native born citizens, apart from the inhumanity of deportation, the problem arises of where to deport them to, since they aren't citizens of anywhere else. And with naturalised citizens, it wouldn't be true naturalisation if they're not exactly the same in law.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 12:10 AM on September 3, 2007


In the United States expatriation must be a voluntary act, carried out by formal renunciation before a U.S. government official or by becoming a citizen of another country or by taking a foreign oath of allegiance. These are the only grounds for expatriation allowed under the Constitution as interpreted by the Supreme Court.

Among Patriot II's most worrying provisions are those affecting citizenship. Section 501 of the bill, deceptively titled "Expatriation of Terrorists," would allow the presumptive denationalization of American citizens who support the activities of organizations that the executive branch has deemed "terrorist."...

Under Patriot II, as described in the Justice Department's official summary of the bill, a U.S. citizen may be expatriated "if, with the intent to relinquish his nationality, he becomes a member of, or provides material support to, a group that the United States has designated as a 'terrorist organization,' if that group is engaged in hostilities against the United States."


I think this was already done for Yaser Hamdi? He had "voluntarily" relinquished his citizenship as a condition of release, if I recall correctly.

As far as where expatriated individuals are sent, I believe that immigrants convicted of felonies can be kept indefinitely in prisons, if there is no country willing to take them:

According to the INS, approximately 3,500 detained non-citizens cannot be removed. They face life-long detention for crimes committed for which they have already served their criminal sentences. The INS asserts the unbridled power to indefinitely detain any non-citizen it has failed to remove from the United States if it decides that person may be dangerous.

My understanding is that non-citizens aren't necessarily less readily rehabilitated, it's just that their rehabilitation isn't the state's responsiblity. Rehabilitation and/or punishment of citizens is the state's responsiblity.

This makes more sense. But in another sense, hasn't a citizen who commits a serious felony (say, a violent crime) relinquished that state of its responsibility to rehabilitate someone who has just demonstrated him/herself permanently incapable of behaving within the guidelines of that state?

My apologies for the derail.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:18 AM on September 3, 2007


Blazecock Pileon writes "You're right. I'm just wondering why it matters if you're a citizen or not, as far as kicking you out of the country for committing a felony. If you can't follow the rules, I don't see why it matters whether or not you're a citizen, as far as the punishment goes. I'm just curious why a legal classification like citizenship should reduce punishment."

I think it's simply that Botany Bay doesn't take prisoners any longer. If we had a place we could send 'em, I'm pretty sure somebody would think it was a good idea.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:31 AM on September 3, 2007


hasn't a citizen who commits a serious felony (say, a violent crime) relinquished that state of its responsibility to rehabilitate someone who has just demonstrated him/herself permanently incapable of behaving within the guidelines of that state?

Rehabilitate, punish, execute.. whatever. They're still the state's responsibility. Until someone (was it an ageing Marlon Brando?) comes up with a way of imprisoning them in a two-dimensional screen thingo that floats around in space, there's nowhere to put such people other than in the correctional systems of their own countries or the countries in which their crimes were committed. (Note: I do not support (nor claim to fully understand)Krypton's system of Justice). All that said, I wouldn't be completely shocked to find some poor island nation has turned itself into a massive penal colony full of undesirables from rich nations.
(on preview, what Peter Mc Dermott said.)
And, yeah, sorry all for what's become a massive derail. I'll get back to the Fortress of Solitude now.
posted by bunglin jones at 12:46 AM on September 3, 2007


Not that this is terribly relevant to a thread about Switzerland, but I'm about 99% sure that there is a Supreme Court case in the US establishing that it is un-Constitutional to revoke a US citizen's citizenship as punishment for a crime (treason?). So once you're a citizen, you're in. You can do anything you want and you'll go to prison, maybe get the needle, but they don't deport citizens anymore. (And I think Patriot II would run into problems here also, although the new USSC bench might change the old ruling, who knows.) I think the decision basically said that it wasn't the deportation per se that was un-Constitutional, but that stripping a US Citizen of their sole citizenship would make them a stateless person, which isn't allowable. (I think the ruling was made less out of kindness than out of a desire to not create a whole lot of stateless spies running around the world, causing problems -- better for everyone to just keep them in prison.)

The people who generally are at risk of deportation are non-citizens living in a country under a resident visa (or without a visa at all, illegally). They're not citizens of the country in question; they have some other citizenship, from their country of origin. Essentially, they are guests. So when they get busted committing a crime, the host country -- rather than putting them in prison, which costs money -- just says that they're no longer welcome, and deports them back to their home country. (Sometimes. I think most states reserve the right to punish other countries' citizens if they choose, they just usually don't.)

So the existing Swiss policy of deporting non-citizen immigrants who commit felonies is consistent with other nations, including the US. What seems to be ticking people off is that the policy isn't being enforced. And in response, the right-wingers are calling for this collective-responsibility garbage, that would deport the criminal and their entire family. As I said before, I find it hard to believe this would fly, and I strongly suspect that it's a pandering bargaining stance.
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:49 AM on September 3, 2007


Just trying to puzzle out why being a citizen means a lesser punishment for the same crime against the state.

I can think of two reasons. Following on from i_am_joe's spleen, people apply different rules to others based upon closeness. A rough ranking guide, on average: children, spouse, close family, distant family, friends, aquaintances, region/county/state, cultural grouping, country, international association (EU etc), rest of humanity.

Someone who is a countryman - a citizen - is closer to us and more worthy of protection than a citizen of another country, just as most will take the side of their children against a stranger pretty much regardless of circumstance. It's human social interation writ large into law, which is largely what laws actually are, codified accepted societal behaviour - which is why they vary between societies. Is it logical? not particularly, but then law really isn't written by logic (just look at who they're written by!) Note though that even if someone is legally a citizen though, they may still be perceived as a foreigner and people would like them to be treated as such.

Secondly, it's down to fairness. A citizen has a long term investment in their country, often life-long. They contribute much, be it taxes, voluntary work, social stability, production for the country or other. In return, most countries will support and assist their citizens, even when they are no longer a good member of society. Criminals serve their time in prison as punishment, and are supposedly then rehabilitated by it so they can re-enter society and be a useful member of it. Even if they are not, it is still often the duty of the state to support its citizens as a whole, even if a particular individual probably shouldn't be - it's a little like insurance. Most people pay in and don't then get back much, but everyone is covered in the event of something really bad.
posted by ArkhanJG at 12:54 AM on September 3, 2007


I just don't mind if countries expel people for violent crimes.. and the whole family seems natural if the children are minors.

Otoh benifits fraud should just means "fine, you continue to pay taxes, but you never again receive said benifits", simple enough. And drug crimes are just plain silly.

Switzerland has admitted far too many foreign workers. They need to start nationalizing those that have integrated. And obviously let the visa & residence permits expire for those that haven't.
posted by jeffburdges at 12:58 AM on September 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


Just a little more clarification: a lot of people in this thread seem to be talking about the issue of deporting naturalized citizens -- people who are, by definition, citizens of the country they're currently living in. (And which, in most nations, are treated exactly the same as a citizen-by-birth. In the US the only difference is becoming President.)

Nothing I read in the article makes me think the Swiss -- even the weirdo far-righters -- are contemplating that. When they talk about "immigrants," I think they are talking about resident aliens; people who are living in Switzerland but who are not citizens, there on some sort of visa. Deporting them from Switzerland would not make them a stateless person.

The deportation, or revocation of citizenship, of a country's own citizens -- rendering them stateless persons -- is a totally separate, much more severe, issue.
posted by Kadin2048 at 1:02 AM on September 3, 2007


Switzerland has admitted far too many foreign workers. They need to start nationalizing those that have integrated. And obviously let the visa & residence permits expire for those that haven't.

except that maybe, they don't want to become swiss citizens at all... And on residence / visa the Swiss has signed the Bilateral Agreements so that basically every EU citizen can come, stay and go as they please.

It is a different situation from say US or Australia: in 2-4 hours drive you will be in you respective country of origin, so that family ties stay in place.

And with 4 % unemployement and the highest salaries in Europe it has become very common for the "Educated class" to do a 3-4 year stint in Switzerland just for the money. Which often turns into a life-long stay..
posted by elcapitano at 1:21 AM on September 3, 2007


Interestingly, every copy of the black sheep poster I have seen in Geneva has been ripped or defaced in some way, whereas all of the ones I've spotted in the German speaking part have been left intact.

It must be noted that Geneva cannot really be considered as representative of Switzerland. Over 40% of the population is non-Swiss, it has a daily influx of over 40,000 "frontaliers" from France, and as a result I have found it to be very open and welcoming to to B & C permit holders. I have a colleague whose sister lives in the east of Switzerland and entire classes at her kid's school are made up of sold Swiss names, you wouldn't get that in Geneva...

However, as has been pointed out, the more rural areas, and in particular the Swiss German area, things are a lot more traditional and I suspect the UDC / SVP get far more than 26% in those areas.
posted by jontyjago at 1:58 AM on September 3, 2007


Fascinating thread. As for kicking out citizens, IIRC, there is a UN agreement against rendering anyone stateless.

As someone expecting to move to Switzerland in a few months, it sounds a little scary. But I've seen my share of anti-foreigner sentiment in western Europe. It's been rearing its ugly head all over the place. Does the name Pim Fortune ring any bells?

The canton where we'd be moving seems to encourage international people. Amusingly, it is adjacent to the canton that booted out my ancestors, centuries ago, over religion (Swiss Reformation, Anabaptists). I've met some absurdly remote Swiss relatives still living in the village from which my surname is derived. Nice folks. (And OMG, potatoes fried in butter, with eggs! I could happily die from that)

Reading some forums for foreigners in Switzerland, it seems some like to give them a lot of crap for speaking poor German. Kind of like Americans get attitude about immigrants not picking up good English.
posted by Goofyy at 3:41 AM on September 3, 2007


Hey, Goofyy, good luck in Switzerland! And, hey, maybe you can get a MeFi meetup together right away, with elcapitano, who made his very first MeFi comment ever in this very thread, and who, judging by his comments, is Swiss, or living in Switzerland, or both.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:52 AM on September 3, 2007


Goofyy - don't be scared - the Swiss are little teddy bears really. And if you do arrange that meetup, don't forget me, not much MeFi action in Geneva...
posted by jontyjago at 5:18 AM on September 3, 2007


I always liked Arial better.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 5:55 AM on September 3, 2007


Arial is the one resident alien I would support banishing.

The beetled brow of the lowercase 'e,' the grotesque* graceless uppercase 'R,' the shifty and degenerate lowercase 'a.' Not our sort, what?

Tiresome font levity! Catch it!
posted by Haruspex at 8:00 AM on September 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


I really can't see an immigrant from Cuba or Guatemala being particularly upset that an illegal alien from Mexico can't become a citizen. -- Makoto

Well how many do you know? I mean, from my perspective, the current anti-immigrant thing seems like anti-Latino hysteria, and nobody likes being a target of a pogrom, even if it doesn’t specifically target them. How do you think the average Cuban-American, born here, is going to like the idea of someone asking for their proof of residency if they get pulled over in a traffic stop? You think they wouldn't mind that? Seriously?

It has nothing to do with practical economics, and everything to do with being the target of racist policies. This would apply especially to Mexican-Americans and legal Mexican residents, who I think probably, make up the bulk of the Latino population in the U.S.

Just trying to puzzle out why being a citizen means a lesser punishment for the same crime against the state. -- Blazecock Pileon

Well being deported isn't technically 'punishment', it's simply an ancillary effect of no longer being wanted as a citizen. The same thing would happen if you'd committed a felony in your home country, you wouldn't be able to immigrate.

Under Patriot II, as described in the Justice Department's official summary of the bill, a U.S. citizen may be expatriated "if, with the intent to relinquish his nationality, he becomes a member of, or provides material support to, a group that the United States has designated as a 'terrorist organization,' if that group is engaged in hostilities against the United States."

I don't think that law ever passed.
posted by delmoi at 10:49 AM on September 3, 2007


A little under a quarter of the people who live in Switzerland weren't born there, nearly double the U.S. figure

This coincides with my impression that Switzerland has a massive number of expats living there, some long-term because of the lower taxes compared to their home countries (hey, if I worked in finance, and someone offered me a high-paying job in Geneva, I'd be up for it).

One odd thing about that: being of Greek descent, I know of some Greek families who live in Geneva. Greek Orthodox priests typically wear their cassock (or more westernized ones a collar) at all times. But, apparently, in Switzerland, it is illegal for clergy to wear distinguishing religious garb in public. So the priests' "uniform" is a black suit with a dark tie.

For those arguing that it seems only logical that a non-citizen convicted of a felony should be deported, keep in mind that politicians have a habit of expanding the definition of "felony" to cover just about any crime above the level of traffic violation, so I am always skeptical of provisions that specific special consequences for those convicted of "felonies."
posted by deanc at 3:42 PM on September 3, 2007


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