Immigrants and Asylum Seekers
There are two groups of Sri Lankan Tamils in Switzerland. Within each there are sub-groups (for example, theevans, Muslims, members of certain lower castes), but an important cleavage exists, on the one hand, there are those Tamils who arrived between 1983 and 1989, and who are successfully integrated into the economy. They are no longer dependent on state provisions, and have officially given up their bid for asylum in exchange for a form of renewable residence. On the other hand there are those Tamils who arrived in Switzerland after 1989, who have, for various reasons, been unable to integrate into the economy, and continue to hold the status of asylum seeker with the possibility of being returned to Sri Lanka under the repatriation Agreement as described in Chapter Three.
The first group, termed here the Tamil immigrant population, comprises around 12,780 people and is smaller and more cohesive than the second group of Tamil asylum seekers which has a shifting population of around 18,000 (in the remainder of the book the italicised use of immigrant and asylum seeker refers to the groups identified in this chapter). My interviews with Tamils in Switzerland would suggest that the size of the immigrant population is likely to remain static over the next few years (from 1995 onwards) with further associational immigration unlikely, and very few longer- resident Tamils choosing to return to Sri Lanka, even after a cessation of violence. In contrast, continuing repatriation, and