Hungary Steps Up Arrest And Deportation Of Migrants : Parallels While Hungarian authorities are transporting some migrants directly to Austria, they are also arresting others for illegal entry — and deporting them after brief court proceedings.

Hungary Steps Up Arrest And Deportation Of Migrants

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One place where you can see the chaos and confusion of Europe's migrant and refugee crisis up close is Hungary. Migrants and refugees who enter Hungary from Croatia are given free train rides to Austria. But then those who enter Hungary from Serbia are arrested. Lauren Frayer reports on what happens to them next.

LAUREN FRAYER, BYLINE: This road runs through a forest on Hungary's southern border with Serbia. Migrants who manage to squeeze through holes in a barbed-wire border fence emerge onto this road, where Hungarian police lie in wait.

Police point their guns and shine flashlights into the faces of several frightened Iraqis and Syrians. They use dogs to corral them into a police van and take them to jail.

Days later, most end up here - at a special tribunal in the southern Hungarian city of Szeged. A dozen migrants trudge into the courthouse each morning under police guard. But instead of evaluating their asylum claims, Hungary puts them on criminal trial under a law that took effect last month making it illegal to breach Hungary's border fences.


TIMEA KOVACS: They don't know nothing about the procedure. The translators should explain them, with the lawyers help. But they don't have enough time.

FRAYER: Defense lawyer Timea Kovacs says the translators are paid by police and are sometimes biased. Testimony about who refugees are and what they're fleeing is often ruled irrelevant. Only evidence about the Hungarian border fence is admissible in court.

UNIDENTIFIED JUDGE: (Speaking Hungarian).

FRAYER: Officials let me sit in on the trial of Mustafa Abdul Saleh, age 20, a Kurd from Syria who climbed through a hole he says someone else had cut in the border fence.

UNIDENTIFIED JUDGE: (Speaking Hungarian).

FRAYER: The judge sentences him to two years expulsion from Hungary, citing his lack of remorse. He's ordered back across the fence to Serbia, but the Serbs refuse to take such deportees. So Hungary ends up keeping them, says attorney Kovacs.

KOVACS: So they take them to immigration detention centers all over in the country.

FRAYER: So how many people are in that situation?

KOVACS: I think 700, 800 persons.

FRAYER: Outside the courthouse, children play near a fountain. Classical music pipes from speakers on Szeged neoclassical town hall. Parents sit on park benches. A baby burst into tears. These are not locals. They're Yazidis, one of the most persecuted sectarian minorities in Iraq and Syria. No one here speaks their dialect. They've been ordered to a detention facility in the far north of the country. Aid worker Balazs Szalai tells me authorities won't provide transportation for them though.

So they're left here in a park, wondering what to do.

BALAZS SZALAI: Yeah. So we try to help them. This is why I called our lawyer because I think they don't have money, because we want to help no just with food. We want to change the legal circumstances. We want to monitor what's happening with them because they are human.

FRAYER: It's getting dark. The fountain shuts off. The aid worker is scrambling to find the Yazidis beds for the night. But even if they find temporary shelter, they will be deported from Hungary. And that technically also means a ban from 25 other European countries where they could have requested asylum. For NPR News, I'm Lauren Frayer in Szeged, Hungary.

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