From Diane Hamilton, Toronto
Tim Goodall, Toronto ON
Dear Mr. Alexander;
Sunday May 25, 2014 I met Jozsef Pusuma his wife Timea Daroczi and their lovely daughter Lulu. Sunday was my 12 year old son’s confirmation to our church community. May 23, 2014 my son took time off school to rally outside of your Constituency Office asking that Lulu be free. He has created a power point presentation, which he has taken to various organizations to highlight the situation that the Pusuma’s are in. In gratitude for my son’s caring efforts, Jozsef cooked traditional Hungarian food and gave it to my family as gift to be shared with all who came to the confirmation. Jozsef, a kind, thoughtful, caring man shared with me his desire to live in Canada. He talked about his hope of one day opening a Hungarian restaurant, were he will serve great food and offer live music.
You should try this man’s cooking it is fantastic.
BACKGROUND: Jozsef and Timea are high profile human rights activists from Hungary. Both are Roma. Mr. Pusuma is half Jewish. Mr. Pusuma worked as a hate crimes investigator for Ms. Viktoria Mohacsi, an influential leader in the struggle for Roma rights and a former Member of European Parliament.
After years of enduring threats and harassment, Mr. Pusuma, Ms. Daroczi and their very young daughter Lulu were attacked by four thugs with clubs, members of the Hungarian Guard in July 2009. This incident was the culminating event that led the family to flee from Hungary to Canada to seek protection as refugees.
Jozsef and Timea are human rights defenders; that is a fundamental reason why they are in danger in Hungary. They have solid evidence to prove this fact, and they gave it to their lawyer long before their refugee hearing. However, the lawyer never submitted that evidence to the Immigration and Refugee Board, and didn`t prepare them properly for their hearing. On the day of their refugee hearing, their lawyer did not show up and an interpreter and immigration consultant on the lawyer’s staff came instead.
Because of the lawyer’s failure to submit their evidence to the Immigration and Refugee Board, it was never considered, and as a result, their refugee claim was refused.
February, 2014 a committee of the Law Society`s governing body determined that “the investigation of the matter disclosed evidence of professional misconduct” by their first lawyer and the Committee authorized discipline proceedings against him.
I say free Lulu, because the Pusuma’s lovely little girl Lulu has been living in sanctuary for over two years in cramped conditions in a West End Toronto church. She cannot go to school; the Pusuma’s cannot go outside for fear of deportation. I am writing this letter in support of the Pusuma family. I know that your office is quite aware of this case. There is a petition with over 42,000 signatures. There was the, afore mentioned, rally at your C.O. “Once you witness an injustice you are no longer an observer, you are a participant” – June Callwood. I feel it is now incumbent upon me to formally add my voice to the many and urge you to please issue the Pusuma family a Temporary Resident Permit while they continue to fight for residency in Canada.
In summary: Sunday May 25th, I watched the Pusuma family interacting with my family and friends and members of the community. They became our friends. They aren’t a news story to me, they are now my friends. I watched as we shared Jozsef’s kind gift of Hungarian cuisine. People were raving about how amazing everything tasted. They thanked Jozsef for the wonderful food. I watched everyone share and discuss the news of the day, share jokes, laugh, shake hands, pats on backs, fond embraces, together we cleaned up and did the dishes as family and friends do. We all pitched in. I watched Lulu playing with other children and at the end of the luncheon; we all wished each other well. Mr. Alexander, the Pusuma’s are already a Canadian family, we just need to make it official. Get them out of sanctuary and let them start contributing to our great country.
As we all left Sunday, to enjoy the beautiful, much anticipated spring weather we all had a collective lump in our throats. We get to leave. Not the Pusuma’s. For a brief, shining moment they were engulfed in the warmth of family and friendship. Then we all left them – alone in their tiny one room “home”.
It is my sincere hope that the day comes soon, when you will be able to sit in Jozsef’s Hungarian restaurant, try his Broccoli soup with homemade pasta dumplings and enjoy the best Paprikash I have ever tasted. I hope that you will see the broad smile on the faces of the Pusuma family, a Canadian family and say to yourself, “I helped make this happen.”
Michael Wagner, Oakville ON
Dear Ms Lisa Raitt:
I am writing to you today because you are my MP.
I am writing on behalf of the Pusuma family. These are people who escaped Hungary after receiving a severe beating based on racism (they are Roma – what we in English call gypsies). Their refugee claim was denied because of poor lawyering – a lawyer who took their money and did not defend them well.
On the day of their refugee hearing, their lawyer did even not show up.
Our government is seeking to return them to Hungary, a supposedly “safe” country.
My ancestry is Hungarian. I lived in Europe for several years and visited Hungary extensively. I also have friends and relatives there. Hungary has historically been intolerant of minorities (it’s why my father moved here) and, while things have improved some overall, is still not a good place for Roma.
The family left Hungary after a beating. They have since received death threats, saying, in part, “we will enjoy slitting your throats on your return to Hungary”. How can we return them to Hungary with such a threat lying in wait for them?
I ask that you speak to your government colleagues and work to allow this refugee claim to proceed, and allow the Pusuma family to live here freely, in the open, while the refugee claim is proceeding.
If you are unfamiliar with the case, there is a web site with more information here:
Thank you for your time,
Renée Sieburth, Toronto ON
Dear Chris Alexander, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration:
This is clearly a case of people who are victims of persecution in Hungary, a country known for its intolerance of minorities; they are also victims of a dishonest lawyer who has deprived them of the proper procedures for acceptance into Canada. I, myself, have lived as a hidden child in Belgium during W.W.II and I know how intolerable such a life can be. They need and deserve a chance to live in a free country.
Warren Dodd, Kitchener ON
Dear Honourable Chris Alexander, P.C., M.P.,
I am writing to you today about the family of Jozsef Pusuma, Timea Daroczi, and their daughter Lulu, who are a Hungarian Roma family and currently live in a Toronto church. Jozsef, Timea, and Lulu fled to Canada to seek protection as refugees following documented attacks and harassment in Hungary. However, their refugee claim was denied following professional misconduct by their lawyer that is currently being investigated by the Law Society. This misconduct directly contributed to the denial of this family’s claim.
Fearing for their lives, Jozsef, Timea, and Lulu made the difficult decision to seek sanctuary in a Toronto church. For the last two years, this family has been unable to leave the church. In light of the proceedings by the Law Society, Jozsef, Timea, and Lulu deserve to live freely. I request that Jozsef, Timea, and Lulu be granted Temporary Resident Permits so they can leave the church where they currently reside.
History will judge our nation based on how we cared for the most vulnerable. As a researcher who studies migrant and refugee rights around the world, I am well aware of the precarious realities of individuals and families who involuntarily leave their communities and countries of residence in search of freedom and safety. I have also studied the barriers that these individuals and families experience in their attempts to seek asylum abroad. I see Jozsef, Timea, and Lulu’s case as an opportunity for our country to set an example for others in humanitarianism and compassion inside our borders. I, along with the thousands of others petitioning you on behalf of Jozsef, Timea, and Lulu sincerely hope you take this opportunity.
Anna McIntosh, Ottawa ON
Dear Honourable Chris Alexander, P.D., M.P.,
A friend has recently brought to my attention the situation facing Jozsef Pusuma, Timea Daroczi and daughter Viktoria (Lulu), a Hungarian Roma family whose claim to the Immigration and Refugee Board was denied in the context of professional misconduct by their lawyer, and who now live in sanctuary in a Toronto church.
The story of this family is heart-wrenching. After the hardships that they have faced in their Hungarian homeland, it is devastating to hear that the family still has no official status in Canada, and cannot leave the church for fear of deportation. It must be extremely difficult for the parents to see their daughter deprived of normal opportunities to study and play, and not know what the future will bring for her.
As Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, I urge you to grant Temporary Resident Permits to this family. A large number of Canadians are now aware of the injustices facing Jozsef Pusuma, Timea Daroczi and Lulu, and stand in support of them. We all hope to soon hear that they have been granted official status in Canada.