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A wealthy Swiss village has chosen to pay a $300,000 fine rather than accept just 10 refugees

Reuters/Yannis Kolesidis
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By Aamna Mohdin
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Faced with the choice of taking in handful of refugees or paying a hefty fine, a Swiss village opted for the fine.

Residents of Oberwil-Lieli—which has 300 millionaires in its population of 2,200—voted against taking in a government-imposed quota of asylum seekers in a controversial referendum; 52% of residents voted “no” when asked if the town should accept just 10 refugees. The town will now have to fork out 290,000 Swiss francs ($292,000).

“We do not want them here it is as simple as that,” one village resident told MailOnline. “We have worked hard all our lives and have a lovely village that we do not want it spoiled. We are not suited to take in refugees. They would not fit in here.”

The government’s quota system is meant to fairly distribute 50,000 asylum seekers across Switzerland. Refugees arriving in Switzerland are reportedly forced to hand over assets that are worth over 1,000 Swiss francs ($1,000), to cover their living expenses. A similar proposal in Denmark sparked outrage last year.

Refugees who stay in Switzerland are also expected to give 10% of their wages to the government for up to 10 years.

Oberwil-Lieli’s local poll follows a national referendum on a proposal that would legalize the expulsion of foreigners (link in German) who commit two offenses—major or minor—within a 10-year without appeal or due process. During the run up of the national referendum, the country’s largest political party depicted foreigners as black sheep on posters used on billboards, newsletters, and flyers. Swiss voters ended up rejecting the proposal.

Just last week, a regional authority ruled that Muslim students in Switzerland must shake their teacher’s hand. Failure to do so could result in a fine of up to 5,000 Swiss francs.

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