Roma family living in limbo after temporary residence permit expires

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Roma family living in limbo in Montreal
WATCH ABOVE: A Hungarian Roma family living in Montreal has yet to hear from the federal government on whether or not their application to stay in Canada has been granted. A stay of deportation obtained by the Lakatos family expired Saturday. Now, as Navneet Pall reports, Katalin and her 17-year-old daughter, Gilda, face an uncertain future and an agonizing wait – Jul 17, 2016

MONTREAL – The Lakatos family escaped a difficult life in Hungary, they are Roma, an ethnic group that is not welcome there.

They came to Canada in 2011, but only Gilda, a 17 -year-old high school student, and her mother remain in Canada.

Gilda’s father and brother were deported back to Hungary in March 2016.

The application for asylum was rejected in 2015 on the grounds that Bill C-31 recognizes that Hungary is on a safe list and should not be producing refugees like other troubled places in the world.

READ MORE: In their own words: Refugees to Canada recount their journeys and experiences

But life for Gilda was anything but safe.

“I was always afraid,” said Lakatos. “I couldn’t go outside. Someone could attack me or hit me.”

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Gilda came to Canada when she was 11 years old.

Since she has grown a lot.

“In the last five years I have learned a lot,” said Lakatos. “I have lots of friends and would like to keep them. I would also like to graduate and have a normal life like everyone else.”

But that may not be possible.

The Lakatos’ were granted a temporary residence permit while their appeal to stay in Canada on humanitarian grounds was being processed.

The temporary permit expired Saturday.

READ MORE: Support rises for Hungary’s far-right political party, Jobbik

They were granted the permit for two months but the federal government has yet to come to a decision on their application.

According to Dafina Savic, executive director at Romanipe, a Roma advocacy group, the federal government has shown little desire to grant the family asylum on humanitarian grounds.

“Gilda has been integrated in school, she has learned French, she has hopes for the future here which she cannot have in Hungary,” said Savic.  “If she is sent back to Hungary she will not be able to have a normal life as her father and brother have already been sent back, they have been facing discrimination.”

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Deporting the remaining Lakatos means sending them back to a country that will limit their opportunities and discriminate against them.

“In recent years we have seen a rise of Neo-Nazi movements in Hungary which have been publicly proclaiming anti-Roma sentiments.”

No timeline has been given by the federal government on their case.

Romanipe is also demanding the government repeal Bill C-31 which received royal assent in June 2012.

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