U.S. Senators are petitioning the Swiss government to change a rule that will prevent Mormon missionaries from working in that country after 2012. The new Swiss law came out of a renegotiation of visa regulations that allows greater access to European Union workers but places new limits on access for those from other countries.
Fourteen U.S. senators have written a letter to the Swiss government urging them to change the regulations. The article at swissinfo.ch, excerpted below, neglects to ask why fourteen U.S. senators are lobbying on behalf of the missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The Swiss embassy responded to the request by the senators – which included Harry Reid, Majority Leader in the Senate, and 12 other Mormon senators – in an October letter offering hope for a possible solution through dialogue and other means.
“Laws can be amended and regulations can be changed but it will be up to the relevant communities involved to initiate those changes,” Urs Ziswiler, the Swiss ambassador at the time, wrote in the correspondence.
Ziswiler told swissinfo.ch: “We have several similar cases from other countries and to make an exception for the Mormons would create a precedent.”
In response to the correspondence, Senator Crapo told swissinfo.ch that he appreciates the invitation to “continue discussions” to find a way for Mormon missionaries to continue their services. Most Mormon missionaries who come to Switzerland are from American states, including Utah, Missouri, Idaho and Arizona.
Under an existing transition agreement, a maximum of 80 Mormon missionaries from the US were allowed into Switzerland in 2010, and 50 will be permitted in 2011. As of 2012, there will be no future admissions of missionaries of any denomination from any third party states, according to the Swiss embassy.