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Hungary to legislate for detention or rapid deportation of migrants: PM

BUDAPEST (Reuters) - Hungary plans to pass a law to allow the extended detention or rapid deportation of illegal immigrants, to avoid becoming a “camp” for economic migrants, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Friday.

Hungary is experiencing a surge of illegal entries from the south, mostly from impoverished Kosovo, the source of 10,000 asylum applications in January alone.

Most apply for asylum to stave off immediate deportation and secure their release. While their applications are being processed, they give immigration authorities the slip and push on westwards through the EU’s borderless Schengen zone.

Orban told public Kossuth radio that Austria and Germany, where most of the migrants are heading, would tighten their own rules within months and the migrants would then remain in Hungary.

“If then we do not have laws that allow us to detain them immediately and deport them back, then Hungary will become a camp for economic migrants,” he added. “This must be avoided.”

Antal Rogan, parliamentary leader of Orban’s Fidesz party, last Friday floated the idea of keeping asylum seekers in detention until their applications were assessed, and expelling rejected applicants with immediate effect.

Almost all are likely to be viewed as economic migrants with no claim to asylum; Germany rejected about 99 percent of applications from Kosovars last year.

Germany said on Thursday that it was sending police officers to Hungary’s porous border with Serbia, where most of the Kosovars cross, to help control the surge of immigrants.

The Kosovars, frustrated by continued poverty and unemployment 15 years after breaking away from Serbia, are taking advantage of the fact that Serbia has made it easier for them to leave by recognizing their travel papers.

Reporting by Krisztina Than; Editing by Kevin Liffey