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Dear Members of the National Council
Poverty can affect any one of us. It can be the result of unemployment, an accident, economic crisis, illness, divorce or any other personal difficulties. The coronavirus crisis has made that clear. Our social welfare system is there to guarantee us all a life of human dignity in these situations.
But that isn’t the case for everyone. Over 2 million people without a Swiss passport live and work and pay tax in Switzerland. Many of them were born here or came to Switzerland as children. Claiming social welfare benefits can have far-reaching consequences for them. They can be ordered to leave Switzerland, even after having lived here for decades. Since 1 January 2019 this even applies to settled people who have lived in Switzerland for more than 15 years.
This tears families apart, and ill people and those affected by poverty are ordered to leave Switzerland after many years of calling it their home. This threat is increasingly pushing people to avoid seeking the necessary support altogether. The coronavirus crisis has made this problem even worse. The long queues at the food banks show that the state social welfare system no longer offers any real help to many people.
Changes to the law are urgently required and you will soon have the opportunity to tackle this: agree to the parliamentary initiative 20.451 “Poverty is not a crime” [“Armut ist kein Verbrechen”] and help to end this injustice.