Hungary’s parliament on Wednesday passed a package of bills that will criminalize certain kinds of aid given to illegal immigrants, defying the European Union and human rights groups who warned against the laws.
Officially dubbed the “STOP Soros” law, the proposal makes it illegal to help migrants not entitled to protection apply for asylum and prohibits helping illegal migrants to gain status to remain in Hungary. Under the law, individuals or groups that commit either act would be subject prison terms.
Amnesty International called the legislative package a “new low point” in relations between the government and civil society organization and “something we will resist every step of the way.”
“We will push back against the rising tide of institutional intolerance towards refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants and the attempts to stigmatize, intimidate and frighten Hungarian civil society organisations,” Amnesty International’s Europe Director Gauri van Gulik said in a statement.
Hungary’s right-wing nationalist party right-wing Fidesz, which has a two-thirds majority in parliament, moved forward with the anti-illegal immigration law despite opposition from European human rights organizations. The Council of Europe and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said Hungary’s new law is “arbitrary” and violates EU law, Reuters reported.
But Hungarian Prime Minister and Fidesz leader Viktor Orban argues the laws are needed to prevent the country from being undermined by mass immigration. The argument has proved effective in Hungary: Fidesz was re-elected by a landslide in April after a campaign that attacked the immigration policies of Brussels and Hungarian-born U.S. billionaire George Soros, the new law’s namesake. (RELATED: Government Officials Drive The George Soros Foundation Out Of Hungary)
Orban has accused Soros and the progressive NGOs he fund of encouraging mass immigration into Europe in order to permanently change its culture and demographics, a charge Soros denies. Along with right-wing leaders in Poland and Italy, Orban is resisting the EU’s quota system for distributing migrants from Africa and the Middle East in countries throughout the bloc.
Also Friday, the Hungarian parliament passed a constitutional amendment mandating that an “alien population” cannot be settled in Hungary. The change effectively outlaws the European Commission’s attempts to relocate asylum seekers to Hungary from Italy and Greece.
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