Why Zurich wants to introduce a replacement ID for illegals

Around a tenth of illegal migrants in Switzerland live in Zurich, and many work as domestic workers. A city ID card should make everyday life easier in the future. But there is protest.

In her old life, says Fany Flores, she was the most decent woman in Zurich . She would never have got on a train or bus without a ticket. Before unlocking the front door, she carefully turned around, like a ghost, scurrying inside. She only went for walks in well-tended suburbs. She would never have attended a city festival or a pub. «Absolute horror!»

She shouts today. “You don’t know what’s going on there. Far too many dangerous situations. «

Fany Flores, 64, with short black hair, is actually a cheerful person. For a long time hardly anyone knew about it, she couldn’t show it to anyone. Because the Bolivian lived as so-called sans-papiers in Switzerland — as a migrant without papers. Although, strictly speaking, that’s not true at all. After all, she had papers, but unfortunately the wrong ones, so that she could work in Switzerland. An estimated 100,000 people in Switzerland feel like you. One in ten of them should live in Zurich.

In the largest city in the country there is now a broad network of initiatives, advice centers and associations for and by illegal migrants. Bea Schwager has headed the Sans Papiers contact point in Zurich, Spaz for short, for 16 years. For migrants, she says, every visit to the doctor and every ticket inspection often creates the fear of being discovered and deported. “Many have lived here for decades and may even have children. But in everyday life they often live like invisible people. »

With a city ID, the Züri City Card, Social Democrats, Greens, trade unions and initiatives want to make everyday life easier for the sans-papiers in the future. With the card, they, but also locals, could in future identify themselves wherever you have to show your name and prove that you live in the city. Often it is about small things, access to the library, local transport or discounts in the fields of culture or sports. But also about registering children in school.

After some back and forth, the municipal council has now approved 3.2 million francs for the introduction of the card, around three million euros. However, the liberal FDP and the right-wing populist SVP want to stop the project with a vote. Until the decision is made next May, Zurich may therefore face an ugly dispute.

Proponents say the new card enables better coexistence. In future, the card can also be used as ID for admission in city hospitals. Previous emergency regulations, according to which activists like Bea Schwager or her colleagues have to appear and ask for help, would then become obsolete. «The already lived everyday life in the big city would be easier this way, and coexistence a little more dignified,» says Schwager.