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Old 08.11.2008, 17:27
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To respect foreigners is to respect ourselves

Came across the article today
http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/front/To...rss=true&ty=st

which got me thinking on the concept.

The statistics mentioned in the article is even more mind boggling
"20% of Swiss Domicled people are foreigners".

Curious on the views of Expats and of Swiss people on this forum for this topic
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Old 08.11.2008, 19:19
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Re: To respect foreigners is to respect ourselves

Despite remarks that the Swiss are unfriendly to foreigners, there are many foreigners here. Switzerland probably has more domiciled non-nationals than any other country.

Three explanations for the large number of foreigners:
  1. Foreigners like living here.
  2. Foreigners cannot easily get Swiss citizenship.
  3. EU citizens are on par with the Swiss and have little incentive to naturalize.
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Old 08.11.2008, 22:39
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Re: To respect foreigners is to respect ourselves

I'd add a 4th point ... there is no automatic Swiss nationality for people born here of foreign parents. I know many people who are statistically foreigners despite having lived in Switzerland all their life, and sometimes never even having been to the country, let alone speak the language, of the country of which they are nationals according to statistics.
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Old 08.11.2008, 23:01
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Re: To respect foreigners is to respect ourselves

These sorts of stats are very rubbery depending on the definitions used.

In Australia, 95% are from migrant background, our indigenous population is usually estimated at 5% of our total population, and apart from that just a few immigrated before 1788 - 220 years ago...but most people identify as 'Australian'...

It's possible also to live in Australia permanently without becoming a citizen, and we also generally allow dual citizenship - but I believe the USA up until recently did not (a friend who decided to relinquish his American passport to become an Australian citizen had to go to the American embassy in person where they berated him about why he wanted to give up his citizenship, then tore his American passport up into pieces in front of him - he said it was quite distressing - like he was now an 'enemy' to the USA...so what definition you use, and the administrative limitations on citizenship are a big influence (we usually call this guy 'American' but he is officially 'Australian')...

My other point is that I have experienced a very strong separation between people who live/work/marry within a community of people all from the same ethnic/language/religious background, and those who are very mixed - in my extended family we have English/Irish/Scottish/German/French/Aboriginal/Sri Lankan/Indian/Chinese/Italian all mixed up together...but I know of Aussies who are of one background, they marry someone from a very similar background, and all their decendants come from the same very limited regional area...whether it be European, Asian, or Oceania...

I think it's far more about perception and attitudes - we assume a certain heritage according to what we learn from our parents/family/community - but look a little deeper and we find that we are much more 'mixed' than we think we are (plenty of people in Australia *ignore* the fact that one or more of their decendants were aboriginal, and I know someone who is Indian who conveniently ignores the fact that one of her grandparents was Anglo...)...

I hope that the more I travel, the more aware I become that nationalism is just a social construct...as I am a humanist at heart and an aspiring 'citizen of the world'...

Also, if one parent is 'Swiss' and one a 'foreigner' then I'd imagine the children are defined as 'Swiss' ? - this doesn't happen for example, in Japan, if you are female and Japanese, and you marry a foreigner, you have to either keep your family name and citizenship, but if you give up your family name (and take on that of your husband who is non-Japanese) then it affects your property rights and are you are also treated differently - a friend of mine in this situation migrated to Australia - she is Japanese, her husband Sri Lankan - his status in Japan would have been low, and hers lowered, so they left Japan and found great 'freedom' in Australia where she can choose to use her name, or his, or both! - and the children are not discriminated against for having a non-japanese parent...
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Old 10.11.2008, 01:18
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Re: To respect foreigners is to respect ourselves

I disagree with most paragraphs of this article.

Maybe I'll post another reply in a week.
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Old 10.11.2008, 08:11
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Re: To respect foreigners is to respect ourselves

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I'd add a 4th point ... there is no automatic Swiss nationality for people born here of foreign parents. I know many people who are statistically foreigners despite having lived in Switzerland all their life, and sometimes never even having been to the country, let alone speak the language, of the country of which they are nationals according to statistics.
It is relatively easy for juveniles born and schooled here to obtain Swiss citizenship. But very few do. Why?
  • Disincentive of compulsory army service for men.
  • C permits allow almost equivalent benefits to citizenship.
The US grants citizenship to all children born there. Which other countries do?
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Old 10.11.2008, 08:17
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Re: To respect foreigners is to respect ourselves

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It's possible also to live in Australia permanently without becoming a citizen, and we also generally allow dual citizenship - but I believe the USA up until recently did not (a friend who decided to relinquish his American passport to become an Australian citizen had to go to the American embassy in person where they berated him about why he wanted to give up his citizenship, then tore his American passport up into pieces in front of him - he said it was quite distressing - like he was now an 'enemy' to the USA...so what definition you use, and the administrative limitations on citizenship are a big influence (we usually call this guy 'American' but he is officially 'Australian')...

...
The USA and also Switzerland permit dual citizenship. A speciality of the USA is that US citizens are taxed in the USA no matter where they live. So, renouncing US citizenship is attractive for avoiding double taxation. And the US loses taxes, hence the dramatic scenes you report.
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Old 10.11.2008, 08:36
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Re: To respect foreigners is to respect ourselves

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It is relatively easy for juveniles born and schooled here to obtain Swiss citizenship. But very few do. Why?
  • Disincentive of compulsory army service for men.
  • C permits allow almost equivalent benefits to citizenship.
my 2 boys who were born here, have rejected the idea of becoming Swiss because of the compulsory army service .. and when looking for a job (and finding one easily) my eldest found employers openly enthusiastic that he didn't have to do it !

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The US grants citizenship to all children born there. Which other countries do?
France also gives automatic citizenship (droit du sol)
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Old 10.11.2008, 08:49
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Re: To respect foreigners is to respect ourselves

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The USA and also Switzerland permit dual citizenship. A speciality of the USA is that US citizens are taxed in the USA no matter where they live. So, renouncing US citizenship is attractive for avoiding double taxation. And the US loses taxes, hence the dramatic scenes you report.
I don't agree this is the reason for the dramatic scenes. A huge number of Americans buy the hype that it is the greatest nation and has God's special love. The line between patriotism and nationalism can be blurry anyway, and I find it especially so by people buying US politicians' words. I can be quite proud of much of what the US offers without thinking we are better than everyone else, particular in the eyes of an omnipotent deity.

I don't think the embassy employees are getting emotional about the lost tax revenue, unless the person giving up citizenship is Warren Buffet or Bill Gates!

It seems the US does now generally allow dual citizenship, in any case, though I suspect one would get asked a lot of questions.
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Old 10.11.2008, 08:53
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Re: To respect foreigners is to respect ourselves

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I disagree with most paragraphs of this article.

Maybe I'll post another reply in a week.
I'd be interested in that. I think it makes some interesting points, though I don't agree that there is a weak Swiss identity. It is not monolithic, but that does not make it weak.

I agree strongly with the article that people identify closely with their home communities here. People living in Zurich from Bern, Basel, Zermatt, whatever, are from their home Canton in my (short) experience!
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Old 10.11.2008, 08:56
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Re: To respect foreigners is to respect ourselves

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France also gives automatic citizenship (droit du sol)
I don't think that's right. From the little I know there's no EU country which confers citizenship automatically at birth on kids whose parents are foreigners. Ireland used to do it but they changed that. In France you have to apply when you are older and there is a continuous residency test of several years prior to making the request.
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Old 10.11.2008, 09:00
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Re: To respect foreigners is to respect ourselves

In the past 20 years I have lived less than 3 years in Australia and until last summer had not set foot there in 11 years but I still consider myself Australian.
I have had a British passport all of that time also but would never consider myself British except on paper.

My daughter has an Australian passport although she only visited there for the first time this summer also and if you ask her, she is Australian and French. Her mother is French. I would consider myself more French than British having been absorded into that culture in the past 20 years.

We lived in Canada for 6 years. While there we lived in the same house for 3 years which was the longest that I personally had ever lived in the same house during my 40 years. But I would never (ever) consider myself Canadian. My daughter however identifies completely with Canada because it was all she knew until she was 7 years old.

Apart from the excellent reasons given already in this discussion, Switzerland is a country that is already made up of many cultures and identities. It is a country united by common goals and objectives rather than a common culture. So to become Swiss (if that means getting a passport) would still not mean that I consider myself Swiss as much as identifying with the those common goals and objectives.
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Old 10.11.2008, 09:07
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Re: To respect foreigners is to respect ourselves

I believe that Switzerland is one of the better ''foreigner embracing countries'' if compared with the so called New World. At least I would argument my statement as follows:
  • deficit of specilized skills on the local market e.g. engineering and civil
  • requirement for know how and new trends to be introduce to let the Swiss products be more competitive
  • although the immigration laws are strict but once you are here the things become much easier
  • Swiss people respect one's own space as long as their rules are not broken
  • Swiss people are willing to embrace new ideas from foreigners as long as it is well motivated and argumented

Last edited by jacek; 10.11.2008 at 09:18.
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Old 10.11.2008, 09:08
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Re: To respect foreigners is to respect ourselves

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my 2 boys who were born here, have rejected the idea of becoming Swiss because of the compulsory army service .. and when looking for a job (and finding one easily) my eldest found employers openly enthusiastic that he didn't have to do it !
It's easy to accept only some of the rules? But then, why should one complain (and be listened to) if he has not obtained citizenship?
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Old 10.11.2008, 09:12
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Re: To respect foreigners is to respect ourselves

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I don't think that's right. From the little I know there's no EU country which confers citizenship automatically at birth on kids whose parents are foreigners. Ireland used to do it but they changed that. In France you have to apply when you are older and there is a continuous residency test of several years prior to making the request.
Automatic giving out of the citizenship to foreigners' children is just like opening the door to abuse and flood of unwanted citizens.
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Old 10.11.2008, 09:18
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Re: To respect foreigners is to respect ourselves

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I don't think that's right. From the little I know there's no EU country which confers citizenship automatically at birth on kids whose parents are foreigners. Ireland used to do it but they changed that. In France you have to apply when you are older and there is a continuous residency test of several years prior to making the request.
Ireland was the last EU state to offer automatic citizenship then ended it in 2004 because of the influx of heavily pregnant non-EU women landing on their shores.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/3801839.stm
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Old 10.11.2008, 11:07
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Re: To respect foreigners is to respect ourselves

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I disagree with most paragraphs of this article.

Maybe I'll post another reply in a week.
Why does that not surprise me?

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Old 10.11.2008, 11:09
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Re: To respect foreigners is to respect ourselves

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Automatic giving out of the citizenship to foreigners' children is just like opening the door to abuse and flood of unwanted citizens.
The U.S. does it. Unfortunately they do not differentiate whether mom is in the country legally or not.

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Old 10.11.2008, 13:07
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Re: To respect foreigners is to respect ourselves

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I don't think that's right. From the little I know there's no EU country which confers citizenship automatically at birth on kids whose parents are foreigners. Ireland used to do it but they changed that. In France you have to apply when you are older and there is a continuous residency test of several years prior to making the request.
You're right ('though I am a not completely wrong) ... I looked it up on wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_nationality_law In France it's a delayed right - people born on French territory get French nationality at 18 as long as they've lived regularly in France, in order to exclude tourists or short term visitors.
And, yes, looking at the list of countries which do grant nationality automatically and unconditionally when you're born in the country (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jus_soli ) there are indeed no EU countries

Last edited by wendyD; 10.11.2008 at 20:28.
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Old 10.11.2008, 14:26
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Re: To respect foreigners is to respect ourselves

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Automatic giving out of the citizenship to foreigners' children is just like opening the door to abuse and flood of unwanted citizens.
Hi,

It is a known fact that jus soli (or citizenship by birthright), by its very definition, will lead to unwanted situations such as people illegally entering countries (that practise jus soli) just to give birth. This is an unfortunate aspect of the law which needs to be definitely looked at and made more stringent.

However having said that, one should make a clear distinction between children born to illegal immigrants and those born to people who are residing legally in a country, pay taxes and contribute towards its prosperity. The very reason for the great economic rise of the US (maybe not relevant in these times) is the fact that hundreds of thousands of people from multi-ethnic, multi-cultural backgrounds saw the US as a hope to a better livelihood and future, and thereby migrated legally. To band these people alongwith illegal immigrants (with regards to jus soli) is like comparing a basket of oranges and apples. The comparison will not work.
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