The following article from Politically Incorrect contains excerpts of an interview with a former Swiss immigration official who blew the whistle on laxity and corruption in his country’s asylum program. He reported that most asylum-seekers who come to Switzerland are criminals scamming the system, and his honesty caused him to be persecuted by the authorities.
Many thanks to JLH for the translation:
Asylum: Switzerland Is as Wide Open as a Barn Door
(Weltwoche #43, 2011)
The official Adrian Strässle informed Weltwoche (This Week in the World) about the abuses in the St. Gall immigration office. Early in the morning, two days before the recent elections, he was hauled out of his bed by an eight-man police raiding squad on the orders of the head of the security and justice department of canton St. Gallen, Karin Keller-Sutter, on the grounds of breach of secrecy, and his entire household was stood on its head. The partially armed police even rifled through his scrap paper so long as investigative judge Ogli (spelled differently at the end of the article) was standing straddle-legged in the room.
Weltwoche had reported that Keller-Sutter illegally prevented the judicially decreed deportation of the Turkish Al-Hariri family. Despite that, the voters elected Keller-Sutter to the Council of States with over 100,000 votes, but did not know at the time about the militaristic arrest of a blameless citizen and official. Here now is an excerpt from the interview by Weltwoche with Adrian Strässle, who worked for more than ten years in the asylum authority and is familiar with asylum cheats. He believes that in this time he has not seen one single political refugee. None. Just shady adventurers and economic refugees.
Weltwoche: The Turkish family is officially named “Al Hariri.” That does not sound very Turkish.
Strässle: The name is most likely false. That accords with the customary smoke and mirrors. Swiss authorities are laissez-faire about asylum-seekers who make false statements. We have experienced that frequently. An African comes into the country under some assumed name, loses his papers, later marries a Swiss citizen, and suddenly reveals his true identity. A trickster like that, who leads the authorities around by the nose — nothing happens to him.
Why is that?
I see great resignation, along with indifference. The asylum system is rudderless. Abuse is so great that many officials just prefer to stick their heads in the sand.
What is the real problem?
Switzerland is as wide open as a barn door. Simonetta Sommaruga recently suggested shortening the process is the ideal solution. But that is not the solution. The problem begins before that, with arrival. Our goal must be to allow fewer people into Switzerland.
How many of the asylum-seekers are politically persecuted in their homelands?
The federal immigration office (BfM) makes positive asylum decisions one at a time. But even that is not realistic. Federal authorities keep certain quotas, so as not to expose themselves to criticism. No one saws off the branch he is sitting on.
What is the proportion of politically persecuted, really?
Before I worked in deportation enforcement, I worked for several years in asylum interrogation. Several hours-, sometimes days-long interviews, which serve the authorities as the basis for their decisions. In all those years, I cannot recall a single instance when I came to the conclusion: Yes, indeed, this story is credible. I learned that politically persecuted people rarely if ever get as far as Switzerland. Or that they do not want to leave their homeland.
The tendency of the refugees’ lobby is: Give the refugees a future in our country.
That is naive. It is almost exclusively young men who leave home. Put positively, they are adventurous types looking for a better life. In reality, they are overwhelmingly delinquents, from small-time crooks to serious criminals.
You sound like the SVP (Swiss People’s Party).
No, a pragmatist from the asylum system.
Do you belong to a party?
I am neutral. Party politics do not interest me. I have strong reservations about the SVP. The problem is that the other parties largely ignore the subject of foreigners.
The Left excuses the widespread criminality among asylum-seekers by their difficult conditions. They have no other option, says the Left.
That is social kitsch. In the 1980s, there were always stories about East European criminal tourists who camped out in cornfields or woods and made thieving forays from there. That (kind of roughing it) is no longer necessary. The typical foreign criminal today is an asylum-seeker. There are many advantages. They are quartered in a center or in social housing in the community, given welfare money and insured against sickness and accident. In parallel with that, they can go on with their delinquencies.
What happens when criminal asylum-seekers are caught?
First they are arraigned, of course, But many of them have a criminal past in their home countries, know the prisons there, so a Swiss prison sentence does not scare them off. After that law specific to aliens comes into play. These measures are limited. A legal alien sentence lasts at most 18 months. Many of them can sit that out comfortably. For anyone who has sat in prison in Lagos, a Swiss prison is a spa.
You were in this business for ten years and know the system in detail. What should Switzerland do?
The basic problem is the open borders. Travel from Mailand to Chiasso. In every train there are dozens of asylum-seekers.
Switzerland is bound by the agreements of Schengen and Dublin.
That is a flop. The Italians should fingerprint every asylum-seeker. Then Switzerland initiates an inquiry whether an asylum-seeker has been recorded in Italy. If that is the case, then Italy is his first country. That is the theory. The reality is different. The Italians only record a part of the asylum-seekers. They tell the others: “Get on the train and go to Chiasso.” Slyly, they pass the buck to Switzerland.
What is the answer?
Switzerland must become sovereign again, monitor its own borders and get out of Schengen/Dublin. Accelerating the process, as Federal Councilor Sommaruga wants, accomplishes nothing. That is purely cosmetic. Many fewer people should be accepted in the process. Refusing applicants must finally be done more systematically. With some countries, there is no problem; accomplishing things there is easy. Others refuse to cooperate. Among them, interestingly, are many countries that receive development aid from Switzerland.
Is Switzerland exerting too little pressure?
Clearly. We have to talk straight with them. They are obliged by international law to take back their deported countrymen.
One almost gets the impression that they are more severely treated than criminal foreigners. The focus in the Keller-Sutter department seems to have shifted. You found abuses and for that you are being prosecuted. What threats are you facing?
The investigating judge has held out the prospect of a conditional sentence. What especially bothers me is that there are threats and intimidation. A full search of my house at dawn with eight people and armed police is reminiscent of conditions in Belarus. I said that to Investigative Judge Brogli and he threatened me: “If you say this in the newspaper, you will most likely be prosecuted.” Is there no freedom of expression anymore?
Why did you resign your position in the immigration office?
The abuses in the asylum system have assumed such proportions that ordinary citizens cannot imagine them. Lawlessness has run rampant. I resigned. I could no longer support that.