Swiss voters reject proposal to deport foreigners

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Swiss votes reject proposal to deport foreigners.00_01_25_15.Still002

Voters in Switzerland have rejected a proposal by a nationalist party. The bill would have automatically expelled foreigners, who commit even low-level crimes.

Dan Williams reports from Zurich.

Swiss voters reject proposal to deport foreigners

Voters in Switzerland have rejected a proposal by a nationalist party. The bill would have automatically expelled foreigners, who commit even low-level crimes.Dan Williams reports from Zurich.

Swiss voters rejected a proposal by a nationalist party to automatically expel foreigners who commit even low-level crime on Sunday, Swiss public broadcaster SRF reported hours after polls closed at noon.

SRF cited political research group gfs.bern, which projected the measure would be rejected by 59 percent of voters based on partial results from some polling areas.

The outcome of the referendum came as a blow to the Swiss People’s Party that had campaigned for the plan, and a turnaround from opinion polls last year which had predicted it would be accepted.

Under its proposal, the law would have been changed to make expulsion part of the sentence for any foreigner, whether for severe crimes like murder or low-level crimes such as threatening officials or giving false testimony – if they are committed twice within a ten-year span.

A broad coalition of political parties and legal experts came out against the plan in recent months, arguing that it was “inhuman” and would effectively create a two-tier justice system that treats Switzerland’s two million or so foreigners – about a quarter of the population – more harshly.

The People’s Party, which campaigns heavily against immigration, had claimed that a law Parliament proposed following a 2010 referendum on the issue didn’t go far enough because it gave judges room to consider the impact that expulsion would have.

The federal statistics office estimates that over 3,000 additional foreigners could be expelled based on the pending legislation.

Public debate over the extended plan was unusually fierce by Swiss standards, raising voter turnout.

Story by The Associated Press