Trudeau says he’s not playing politics as U.S. migrant crisis targets children

But just what is Canada’s policy when it comes to children joining their parents in seeking asylum by walking across the border into Canada from the U.S. to flee U.S. President Donald Trump’s hard-line immigration policy?


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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau seems to be playing politics even when he claims to be not.

Case in point: Take the current U.S. practice of separating migrants from their children as they cross the border into the U.S. from Mexico. The migrants get arrested by U.S. border authorities and the children get sent to holding facilities.

A report this week proclaimed the U.S. could wind up with 30,000 children in holding cells by August. 

Furthermore, in a recent audio found here, the sounds of children crying while in a U.S. detention centre is tough to comprehend.

 It was a disturbing audio and one that is igniting a fierce argument about the detention of immigrant children in the U.S at large.

But Trudeau says he’s staying out of the argument.

“What we will not do is play politics with this,” the prime minister said. “We understand how important it is to be firm and unequivocal as we protect and support human rights around the world. And we will continue to do that both by example and by engagement with the world.” 

The prime minister, it appears, is trying to stay neutral on the U.S. border problem.

“Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, when pressed during question period, would not condemn a new U.S. policy that has resulted in 2,000 children being ripped from their parents’ arms at the U.S.-Mexico border in the last six weeks,” a report from Rachel Gilmore on ipolitics.ca said.

“Canadians always stand up for human rights everywhere around the world and we will continue to,” Trudeau proclaimed. “Over the past years we’ve been very strong in our advocacy not just in Canada to be welcoming as a country for refugees and asylum seekers, but also to promote that around the world.”

But, hey, what about this story from The Globe and Mail first published Feb. 23, 2017 and updated May 17 of this year:

“More than 200 Canadian children have been held in immigration detention in recent years, according to a new report from the University of Toronto’s International Human Rights Program,” said the story from Demographics reporter Joe Friesen. “Between 2011 and 2015, 241 Canadian children were held at the Toronto Immigration Holding Centre alone, according to the report.

“Normally Canadian citizens cannot be subject to detention under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. These children became de facto detainees because they were in the care of a parent who was detained and is a foreign national or permanent resident. The children cannot, however, have their own detention review hearings. As a result, they become “legally invisible,” according to the report.

“It’s a clear violation of international law for these kids not to have their best interests taken into account as a primary consideration,” said Hanna Gros, the report’s author and a senior fellow at the University of Toronto. “It’s quite shocking that Canadian citizens are treated this way.”

So while the two situations are inherently different, Canada cannot play referee in the current crisis along the U.S.-Mexico border. Canada has its own problems with its immigration ministry’s detention of children.

But what is exactly Canada’s policy when it comes to children joining their parents in seeking asylum by walking across the border into Canada, from the U.S. to flee U.S. President Donald Trump’s hard-line immigration policies?

A headline in the Toronto Star on Monday described the policy this way: “Canada detains migrant kids, too, and it needs to stop, experts say”

“Canada’s detention of hundreds of children of asylum-seekers in recent years don’t compare to the devastating images from the U.S. of kids in cages, which have drawn global condemnation,” said a report from The Star’s David P. Ball.

“But immigration experts and government critics say Canada Border Services Agency’s ongoing detention of minors — generally with their families — is deeply damaging to child welfare and mental health.”

According to Gros, the numbers have improved under the Liberal government, but continue to raise concerns about why children are detained at all, while their parents await deportation proceedings.

“The evidence has made it clear that even a brief period of detention … has profoundly detrimental consequences to children’s health and wellbeing,” Gros said. “These are human rights violations in Canada that have real-life impacts that people can appreciate.”


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  1. Ah ha – he’s not interested ? Funny – if those were Muslim families he would tweet ” come to Canada we will take you ” but no , those are Christian families – mostly Catholic – and Trudeau doesn’t want to play …… ”
    Perhaps if he invited them to come to Canada – they might try to get hired under the summer jobs program – in which he dealt the Christian against abortion a swift denial – have we forgotten already ?

Jeff Wilkinson

Jeff Wilkinson is a retired writer, who worked 35 years in print and broadcast journalism before retiring. He also served in the press operations crews at the 2015 Pan Am Games and the 2017 Invictus Games in Toronto.

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