CBSA report claims 'serious' criminality among Hungarian Roma
A Canada Border Services Agency report completed last year analyzes the charges against 311 Hungarian-born people who were jailed in Ontario between January 2010 and December 2011.
Of those, 226 were foreign nationals (not Canadian citizens or permanent residents), of which 187 had claimed refugee status.
That number represents only a tiny fraction (about four per cent) of the 4,442 Hungarian refugee claims filed in 2011.
A redacted version of the investigative report was obtained by CBC News.
According to a "detailed analysis" of all offences, the 226 individuals in provincial jails were charged with approximately 1,001 separate offences. Twenty-five per cent committed a criminal offence in Canada within three months of making their refugee claim.
Among its other findings, the report concludes that Hungarian Roma refugee claimants pose a "significant" risk of committing crimes after they arrive in Canada.
"The information received is not all encompassing, nor is it a depiction of all members of the community, however it serves to demonstrate that there is significant criminal activity occurring within this group."
The report cites several documented examples, including:
- Several people filing refugee claims more than once, and filing again after a claimant is rejected, using a false name or by formally changing the name of the applicant.
- Several Hungarian nationals (more than 20) whose refugee claims failed, but who continued to draw Ontario welfare cheques even after they had been deported to Hungary or scheduled for removal.
- Cases of financial fraud involving skimming (electronically pulling credit card and debit card information from bank machines for fraud purposes) and stealing cheques from small businesses by targeting drop boxes and mail boxes — false cheques were then deposited into bank accounts in Hungary.
- One case of human trafficking in 2010 in Hamilton, where 12 Hungarian nationals were charged; the report calls it the "largest case of human trafficking in Canadian history" and the first in Canada involving human slavery or forced labour.
- Cases where victims of human trafficking were recruited from Hungary and forced to file false refugee claims and apply for social assistance.
- The report also mentions cases where people arrive to claim refugee status, and then exit Canada in possession of thousands of dollars in cash as well as goods including electronics and laptop computers.
The report does not indicate what proportion of refugee claimants are broadly implicated in such crimes or suspected of crime.
Gina Csanyi-Robah, executive director of Toronto's Roma Community Centre, criticizes the report for drawing unfounded conclusions.
"The bias is certainly that Roma refugees coming into Canada are criminals. They've either come here as a result of criminal activity or they're coming here to commit criminal activity," she said.
In an email, the Canada Border Services Agency said it's not singling out the Roma. It prepares a variety of intelligence reports, based on changing migration trends that could affect the immigration system.