Swiss Farmer Rejects Millions For His Land As Form Of Protest Against Unchecked Immigration

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Seeing that nearly one-third of the residents of his hometown are now immigrants, a Swiss farmer named Philip Freimann turned down a $32 million offer for his farmland to be rezoned as an apartment complex in the blink of an eye.

"I'm healthy and I can work, what more do I need?," he said, according to the Daily Telegraph.

As a resident at Zug, Switzerland's richest canton, he decided that the town does not need to have more construction for apartment houses.

"I recently counted 14 building cranes when looking out my living room window," he said. "That's enough."

With a low corporate tax rate having lured over 30,000 foreign companies in recent decades, Zug has experienced a sharp rise in immigrants looking for work.

The corporate tax rate in Zug was 13 percent in 2011 -- among the lowest in the world, while the tax rate has risen to 18 percent in Zurich (which previously faced similar integration problem from the influx of foreign companies). By contrast, median rates were 26 percent in the U.K. and 35 percent in the U.S, according to Bloomberg.

These foreign companies created an economic boom in Zug, which had less than 3 percent of unemployment rate in August. Comparatively, the unemployment rate in the neighboring European nations was about 11.3 percent in July.

The influx of wealthy foreigners has brought great economic benefits for restaurants, car dealers and farmers like Freimann.

However, many of these immigrants do not blend well into the local culture, refusing to speak German or integrate with the people.

"The boom in Zug has reached its limits. Zug doesn't belong to the Zugers anymore," Freimann said to Bloomberg.

This tension became apparent when the cost of living surged with the influx of immigrants, forcing many original residents to move out -- while the canton struggles to provide affordable housing for its less-affluent residents.

"The atmosphere between locals and internationals is getting worse," said Urs Raschle, the managing director at Zug Tourism.

"There is a growing number of [foreigners] who come to Zug alone and don't see a reason to mingle with the local population."

But with the rising tension among the two groups, many local residents became hostile towards immigration .

"Zug is so small and transparent, big masses of foreigners don't just blend in," said Urs Bertschi, a local municipal official.

"When the standard language in the restaurant's garden where I go on Saturday afternoons is suddenly English, it's irritating," he added.

Zug is not alone in facing the integration issue, as many cantons nearby also have similar challenges. The Swiss government has already reintroduced quotas for less-affluent migrants from the other eight EU member states, but now the nationalist Swiss People's Party is campaigning for anti-immigration laws that will effectively limit the number of foreigners who can settle in the country.

 According to Swiss government statistics, in 2011, about 1.8 million foreigners lived in Switzerland, which has a total population of about 8 million. The overwhelming majority (85.1 percent) of these foreign nationals were of European origin, with Italians (15.9 percent), Germans (15.2 percent), Portuguese (12.3 percent) and Serbians (6.0 percent) accounting for the largest shares.

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