Since the summer of 2016, there have been reports of persons who were refused entry at the southern Swiss border with Italy. These persons tried to enter Switzerland by train or on foot at the border in Chiasso, coming from northern Italy. They were rejected by the Swiss border guards, and were subsequently stranded in the Italian town of Como, in a park near the train station. In September 2016, the Red Cross opened a shelter for these people. Different NGOs started to support the persons, with a special focus on unaccompanied minors, who were also among those stranded in Como. Some of the persons have relatives in Switzerland. Also, it has been criticised that the Swiss border guards operate with racial profiling, as they have reportedly picked out all black passengers from the train. There has been broad media coverage of the situation.
The situation is not transparent. It has proven difficult to document concrete cases, as it was not always clear whether or not the persons actually wanted to apply for asylum in Switzerland. Some of them also explicitly wanted to travel on to Germany, which is why they were rejected by the Swiss border guards. However, there are strong indications that at least some persons who wanted to seek protection in Switzerland were prevented from doing so. The Swiss Refugee Council has visited Chiasso and Como on several occasions, and is in discussion with the Swiss authorities in this regard. The Swiss Refugee Council stresses that, in case of doubt, the person must be directed to the reception and processing centre in Chiasso, where it is in the competence of the State Secretariat for Migration (and not the border guard) to examine whether or not there is a well-founded claim for asylum or not.1