Government announces extension of “mass migration state of emergency” until September

February 15, 2017

György Bakondi, the prime minister’s senior domestic security adviser, announced on state television Wednesday morning that the government is extending its nationwide emergency immigration situation, reports Hungary’s state news service MTI.

According to Bakondi, about 60-80 migrants cross Hungary’s border unlawfully every day, and sometimes the number is as high as 100-150. While the majority of these unlawful entries are on the Serbia-Hungary border, Bakondi says the situation on the Ukrainian and Romanian borders warrants an increased law enforcement and military presence.

The law granting the government the authority to declare a “mass migration state of emergency” situation came into effect in March 2016. This latest continuation of the emergency situation will reportedly last until September 7th, 2017. The special emergency situation can be invoked by governmental decree.

Further migration-related legal changes on the horizon

According to pro-government media outlet Magyar Idők, the Interior Ministry will proceed with its proposal to modify four laws so as to empower authorities to detain migrants whose legal status is uncertain, including the status of those seeking asylum.

Bence Tuzson, an undersecretary with the Cabinet Office of the Prime Minister (commonly referred to in Hungary as the propaganda ministry), says the proposal would allow the state to detain asylum-seekers in so-called “transit zones” until their asylum applications are decided. According to the proposal, asylum-seekers would be housed in storage containers in these transit zones on the southern border.

Migrants have become aware of loopholes in EU regulations, Tuzson says, and are now filing appeals when their asylum requests are declined. During the appeals phases, the migrants are leaving Hungary for other EU Member States.

According to Tuzson, asylum-seekers in Europe pose a grave threat to the continent’s security, and while their asylum applications are being decided, migrants will only be permitted to depart from these transit zones in the direction of Serbia.

Currently, migrants apprehended within 8 kilometers of the Hungarian border can be transferred to the border transit zones. The proposal would do away with the 8-kilometer limit and permit authorities to transfer any migrant from anywhere in the country to the transit zones. Further, the proposal package would move all asylum procedures to the transit zones. The new regulations would move asylum-seekers currently housed in open camps to the closed transit zones.

Should the proposals be adopted by parliament, the laws could come into effect as early as late spring.