Tuesday, 10 May at 10:30 am
1500 de Maisonneuve W., 204, Montreal
17-year old Gilda Lakatos and her mother Katalin Lakatos are facing deportation on Thursday. The family left Hungary in 2011 because of the racism they experienced as Roma, which lead to the suicide of Katalin's oldest son and near fatal medical neglect of her younger son, and included sexual threats and insults to the two women.
"Racism was something that we faced every day in Hungary; at school, from the police, from doctors, and it was only getting worse, more aggressive. My mother was afraid for us, she didn't want that for us. That is why we left," said Gilda Lakatos.
The Lakatos family hoped to find a better life in Canada. Unfortunately, they arrived during the anti-refugee and specifically anti-Roma climate fomented by former Immigration Minister Jason Kenney. A study* of over 10 000 Hungarian refugee claims published in April 2015 found that racist stereotypes about Roma people had become “enshrined” in Canada's refugee determination process. The Lakatos family's application was refused and they were ordered deported as refused refugees in October 2015. Because Hungary is on the so-called "safe country list", they will not be eligible for a pre-removal risk assessment (PRRA) until 2018.
"This is clearly a case that the Trudeau government, which wants to make a break with the Conservative past, particularly on questions of migration and refugees, needs to rectify," said Mary Foster of Solidarity Across Borders.
Determined not to return to Hungary, the family remained in Canada, joining the ranks of Canada's estimated 500,000 undocumented migrants, highly vulnerable to exploitation and abuse. When Gilda's father and brother were detained on their way to work in February 2016, and then deported, the two women turned themselves in. They now face deportation on Thursday, despite the difficulties the two men have had since their return to Hungary.
"I want to stay here. I feel okay here, I don't face the same daily struggle against racism, I feel at home, like i was born here. I want to return to school and finish high school and continue my studies. In Hungary I wouldn't be able to continue school and finish my high school," said Gilda Lakatos.
The family applied for permanent residence on humanitarian grounds 8 months ago, but Canada is proceeding with the deportation before responding. Applications on humanitarian grounds are almost never accepted after deportation.
"It would be very easy for the Minister of Public Safety Ralph Goodale to stay the deportation until there is a response on the family's application on humanitarian grounds; this is what we are asking him to do," said Foster.
Contact: tel 438 933 7654
* No refuge: Hungarian Romani Refugee Claimants in Canada, Osgoode Legal Studies Research Papers Series, 2015