BZÖ calls for tougher immigration laws

The debate on immigration statistics and soaring unemployment figures is set to intensify as the Alliance for the Future of Austria (BZÖ) today (Weds) called for a “foreigner check”.BZÖ boss Josef Bucher said Austria should adopt immigration systems as in operation in countries like Canada or Australia.Bucher claimed only people who “fulfil certain criteria” should be allowed to settle down in Austria.He said: “I’m aware that ‘foreigner check’ is a rather tough term, but we need to talk about problems in this field. But this discussion must be held without any emotions.”Bucher’s call for tougher immigration rules comes just weeks after his announcement to reposition the party as “Austria’s liberal and economy-orientated force”. He claimed the BZ֒s policies on immigration would starkly differ from those of right-wing rivals the Freedom Party (FPÖ).The BZÖ leader said: “The FP֒s only slogan on the issue is ‘all foreigners out!’. But you don’t solve problems that way. We want to find a solution that works by consulting experts.”Bucher said first results of talks with party-external experts on immigration and the labour market would be presented tomorrow.The BZÖ chief said Austria must differentiate better between immigrants who want to work from those who only want to make use of its social benefits systems, especially as almost 400,000 people living in Austria had no job last month.”People need to be able to prove they have a job and an income that means they can make a living here. They also need to be able to speak German. They need to be willing to integrate, and they must accept our culture and the law,” he said.Polls meanwhile see opposition party BZÖ at around one to two per cent – a share not enough to overcome the four per cent hurdle to enter the federal parliament. The party, which was founded by late FPÖ boss Jörg Haider in 2005, sensationally won almost 11 per cent in the 2008 federal elections.