Eagle Forum Legislative Alerts

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Immigration Lessons From the Alps

This year, the people of Switzerland voted to put a cap on the number of foreigners allowed to immigrate to and work in Switzerland. The Swiss accomplished this by a referendum of the people, and the success of that referendum sent two powerful messages: first, that maintaining a Swiss national identity is important to the Swiss people, and second that they want to provide for their own citizens before they open their doors to the world. The referendum establishes annual quotas on work permits issued to foreigners, and gives Swiss citizens an advantage over foreigners in competing for Swiss jobs. Those are good lessons for Americans.

The leaders of the European Union, known as the EU, have been trying to bring about the free movement of all people throughout Western Europe, and now they are upset that the EU will have to renegotiate citizen travel agreements with Switzerland. The Swiss, however, have every right to preserve their national identity and provide jobs for their own citizens before they supply jobs for immigrants. Switzerland's new cap on work permits and visas for foreigners is an example that when the people exercise their right to influence and even set their nation's laws, they can speak louder than the bureaucrats.

Many Americans and Europeans would like to implement similar policies in their own countries. In the United States, citizen referendums, such as marriage initiatives, are often overruled by activist judges, and so the will of the people is ignored. In Switzerland, however, there is no method for appealing a referendum of the people, and so the new policy will stand with the force of law.

I'm certainly not advocating that we copy any other country's form of government, but I do think we can learn the lesson that it's important to preserve our national identity and jobs for our own people.

Listen to the radio commentary here:

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