Restrictive Swiss immigration rules caused more victims

The archive photo shows a trailer,used by Italian migrant workers and their children under a motorway bridge near Zurich in 1965. Keystone / Ernst Baumann

Historical research shows that the number of children of migrant workers who had to live in hiding in Switzerland between 1949 and 1975 is much higher than previous estimated.

This content was published on November 13, 2022 minutes

Up to 50,000 children – about four times more than assumed - lived in inhumane conditions according to a study by Toni Ricciardi from the University of Geneva, the NZZ am Sonntag newspaper says.

In total, the number of children affected by the restrictive immigration rules – as they had to stay behind with the grandparents or other relatives in the country of origin, particularly in Italy, Spain and Portugal - is as high as 500,000, Ricciardi is quoted as saying.

The findings are part of a wide-ranging research project on welfare and coercion policiesExternal link in Switzerland.

The new estimation is based on official statistics on immigration, birth rates and other data.

There are no official statistics about the migrant children who lived in Switzerland illegally because files held by the authorities were often destroyed, according to the newspaper report.

Under the seasonal workers status in force between 1934 and 2002 children, migrant workers in Switzerland were not permitted to bring along their families.

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