Toronto – Vilmos Csikja, his wife Beata and their four children from Hungary are the kind of people Immigration Minister Jason Kenney calls “bogus refugees.”
They have been in Canada three years. Their application for refugee protection was denied by the Immigration and Refugee Board, an appeal to the Federal Court was unsuccessful, the IRB’s appeal division turned them down and the Federal Court has now declined to overturn that decision.
Their last hope is an appeal to stay in Canada on compassionate grounds.
Only about three per cent of Hungarian Roma refugee applications are successful at the IRB. Roma refugee cases have exploded over the last five years. In 2007 there were just 34. In 2011 there were almost 5,000.
The Roma refugee boom coincides with two factors – the 2007 lifting of visa requirements for Hungary and increasing prominence of the extreme right-wing Jobbik party in the Hungarian parliament.
“The minister should go to Hungary, claim to be a Roma and stay there for one year,” suggested Vilmos Csikja. “And see what happens to him.”
The Csikjas were members of a prominent Gypsy folk music group called Galbeno Jag (Yellow Fire). As the band grew in popularity, it also attracted the attention of the Vedero (Defensive Strength) uniformed militias that patrol Roma neighbourhoods.
The Vedero parrot Jobbik party rhetoric claiming poor and marginalized Roma aren’t really Hungarian and are the source of crime and disorder.
One night, on his way home from a concert, Vilmos was assaulted by a gang. His teeth were kicked out. Vilmos decided it was time to get his family out of Hungary before things got worse.