Wednesday, April 20, 2005

The Swiss, Schengen and Immigration

This can be found in The Washington Times today. Dont forget to vote in June!

Illegal immigration is a hot-button issue in many countries. Now Switzerland is grappling with the problem, which is exacerbated by not being a member of the Schengen accord. All EU member states except Britain and Ireland have signed the Schengen agreement, which removes internal borders. While Switzerland, which is not an EU member, recently signed the Schengen agreement, ratification depends on a nationwide referendum on the treaty in June. Meanwhile, more stringent checks at the French border are giving the authorities in Vallorbe heartburn, as they scramble to cope with an increasing number of transit rail passengers who lack valid Schengen visas. In the last six weeks more than 250 people traveling by train from Italy via Switzerland to France have been refused entry by French border guards at Vallorbe, the last stop before the French border. A 1960 bilateral accord gives French and Swiss police the right to carry out border checks on each other's territories. Under the accord's terms French border-patrol units survey passengers' documents on the Vallorbe station platforms. Police in Vaud canton are then responsible for ensuring that all those denied entry into France are returned to the country from which they entered Switzerland, and are loudly complaining that the extra border controls are making heavy demands on their time.

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