Solidarity Across Borders is organizing to help the family of Gilda Lakatos, a young Roma woman facing imminent deportation, along with her mother. They are awaiting appeal in Quebec after their refugee claim was refused in April 2015, when Stephen Harper was still in power.
According to the article posted yesterday, August 2, by Lakatos on rabble.ca, "On May 12, we were supposed to be deported to Hungary but we appealed to the minister to stay. With the help of friends and organizations who are supporting us, we got a temporary permit to stay until July 16. I was relieved but also disappointed because we could still be deported. We were still in complete uncertainty.
And now we have been asked once again to leave, this time August 11".
The ruling appears to have been made largely as a result of a set of quasi-official, yet not legislated, policies targetting Roma refugees from parts of Eastern Europe where persecution of Roma is very common.
According to a report by the United Nations International Working Group On Roma, they are "among Europe's most excluded groups, facing widespread discrimination (and often segregation) in many areas of life including housing, education, employment and health.".
But the Government Of Canada's official policy under Harper was that the countries Roma came from were 'safe' and therefore people coming from those countries would not be considered refugees.
After an influx of Roma refugees from Eastern Europe, the Government Of Canada took out billboard, radio and print ads in areas with high Roma populations discouraging immigration to Canada.
The policies around Roma refugees came to light in a mess of controversy in the fall of 2012. Much of the media focus turned to the coverage from now-defunct Sun News, in which Ezra Levant advocated anti-Roma policies in strong terms which many regarded as hate speech. Among other deprications, Levant used the topic to make a jab at the Occupy movement, referring to Roma culture as "the medeival equivelent of the Occupy Wall St. Movement". Levant later apologized for having slurred and "attacked a particular group".
The question now, with deportations seemingly imminent, is why hasn't prime minister Justin Trudeau made any moves to undo the damage done to Roma refugees by his predecessor?
Visit Solidarity Across Borders for more background, and information on how to help.