Hungary passes STOP Soros law that criminalizes aiding illegal immigrants, defying the EU and human ‘rights’ groups
PM Viktor Orban has been a vocal critic of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s open-door immigration policy
Orban has also accused George Soros of encouraging mass immigration to undermine Europe’s Christian culture
A raft of bills given the green light which criminalizes help given to illegal immigrants
By REUTERS and DEBBIE WHITE FOR MAILONLINE
PUBLISHED: 15:10, 20 June 2018 | UPDATED: 11:28, 21 June 2018
Lawyers and activists risk being thrown in jail for a year if they help so-called asylum seekers settle in Hungary after a tough new law was passed.
A raft of bills was approved by Hungary’s parliament today (Wednesday), which criminalizes help given to illegal immigrants.
Under the new law, officially called STOP Soros, people or groups who help immigrants submit requests for asylum, or help illegal immigrants acquire a ‘right’ to stay in Hungary, when they are not entitled to it, will be liable to a prison term.
The controversial legislation was named after George Soros, as it targets several organizations funded by the billionaire ‘philanthropist’, and the parliament has accused him of supporting Muslim immigration.
But the move defies the European Union and human rights groups, and narrows the scope for action by non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
Prime Minister Viktor Orban has been a vocal critic of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s open-door immigration policy and has led eastern European opposition to EU quotas that aimed to redistribute ‘asylum seekers’ around the bloc.
His patriotic Fidesz party tightened its grip on parliament in an April election fought on a strongly anti-immigration platform that denounced US billionaire Soros and neo-liberal NGOs he backs.
Orban accuses Soros of encouraging mass immigration to undermine Europe – a charge Soros denies.
Interior Minister Sandor Pinter wrote justifying the toughened stance: ‘The Hungarian people rightly expects the government to use all means necessary to combat illegal immigration and the activities that aid it.
‘The STOP Soros package of bills serves that goal, making the organization of illegal immigration a criminal offence. We want to use the bills to stop Hungary from becoming a country of immigrants.’
The Parliament, where Fidesz has a two-thirds majority, also passed a constitutional amendment stating that an ‘alien population’ cannot be settled in Hungary – a swipe at Brussels over its quota plan.
Immigration has become a major concern for voters across the European Union, helping to propel anti-immigration parties to power in Italy and Austria and threatening to fracture Merkel’s three-month-old coalition in Germany.
Orban has drummed up support for his tough measures by refreshing Hungarians’ memories of the large numbers of mostly Muslim immigrants from the Middle East who surged into the country in the summer of 2015.
The vast majority of them moved on to wealthier western European countries, like Britain, but Orban has branded the criminal invaders a threat to Europe’s Christian civilization and built a border fence along Hungary’s southern borders to deter any more who may be planning on coming.
Hungarian statistics show 3,555 ‘refugees’ living in Hungary, a country of 10 million, as of April.
342 people were registered as ‘asylum seekers’ in the first four months of this year, mostly from the Middle East, and 279 were approved.
The Hungarian Helsinki Committee, a ‘rights’ group that represents immigrants, said on Wednesday the narrowing definition of who counts as a refugee essentially means nobody entering Hungary by land would be entitled to such a status.
The Orban government expects legal action by the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, over the new law.
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