Minister Jason Kenney Meets with Roma Leaders in Hungary

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Alsózsolca, Hungary, October 9, 2012 — Today, Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney travelled to the village of Alsózsolca and the city of Miskolc, in Northeastern Hungary to meet with members of the Roma community.

Hungary has been the largest source country for asylum claims filed in Canada for the past three years, and approximately 40 percent of these claimants have come from the region around Miskolc.

Minister Kenney visited Hungary in advance of the coming into force of the Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act, expected later this year.  This law will help the Government of Canada offer fast protection to genuine refugees while stopping the abuse of our system and generosity by bogus asylum claimants and human smugglers.

While in the region, Minister Kenney toured Alsózsolca, speaking with local residents and visiting Roma children at the Benedek Elek Primary School; met with the Mayor and other civic leaders of Miskolc; and held a roundtable with leaders of the local Roma Self-Government. He also visited the Miskolc Polar Bear Ice Hockey team, which is coached by Canadian Tim Kehler and has Canadian players.

“I was happy to get a chance to listen to the Hungarian Roma community’s concerns, and discuss with them the irregular migration which sees almost 95 percent of Hungarian asylum claims abandoned, withdrawn or rejected,” said Minister Kenney.

Asylum claims are heard by the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, an independent tribunal which decides refugee claims made in Canada on a case-by-case basis.

The trip to Alsózsolca came at the end of a two-day official visit to Hungary. The visit included bilateral ministerial discussions and a fact-finding mission into the situation of minority communities in Hungary.

While in Budapest, Minister Kenney met with Interior Minister Sándor Pintér, Foreign Minister János Martonyi, and Minister of Human Resources Zoltán Balog. These discussions centred on Canada-Hungary relations and patterns of irregular migration from Hungary to Canada. Minister Kenney also met with Flórián Farkas, MP and President of the National Roma Self-Government regarding the Hungarian government’s National Social Inclusion Strategy.

“I was pleased to hear Minister Balog’s sincere commitment to improving the education and job prospects of the Roma in Hungary,” said Minister Kenney.

Minister Kenney also had extensive discussions with civil society groups, including roundtable meetings with non-governmental organizations involved in promoting the integration of the Roma community into Hungarian society, and Jewish community members engaged in Holocaust education and combating anti-Semitism. While in Budapest, Minister Kenney visited a memorial monument to Raoul Wallenberg and the Hungarian Holocaust Memorial Centre, and the Minister also attended Simchat Torah observances at the Grand Synagogue of Budapest, where he met the Chief Rabbi.

“During this year celebrating the 100th anniversary of the birth of Raoul Wallenberg, Canada’s first honorary citizen, I was honoured to visit the memorial to his humanitarian work on the site of a large Jewish community that was devastated during the Holocaust,” said Minister Kenney. “Throughout this trip, I reinforced Canada’s belief in the values that animated Wallenberg, namely our belief in human dignity and the protection of human rights.”

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For further information (media only), please contact:

Alexis Pavlich
Minister’s Office
Citizenship and Immigration Canada

Media Relations
Communications Branch
Citizenship and Immigration Canada

Building a stronger Canada: Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) strengthens Canada’s economic, social and cultural prosperity, helping ensure Canadian safety and security while managing one of the largest and most generous immigration programs in the world.

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