And What the Government is Doing About This Harmful Policy
A former UN Special Rapporteur is bringing forth concerns about President Donald Trump’s recent controversy over the way undocumented children are being treated at the southern American border should not distract Canadians from what is happening inside our own country.
Francois Crepeau, a law professor and current director of McGill University’s Human Rights Centre, says Canada’s policy of preventing child refugees from reconnecting with parents is both “inhumane and degrading.”
“Being deprived of your parents by the law for no other reason than an immigration violation, which is not a criminal offence, is akin to cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment,” said Crepeau.
Children being intentionally kept from seeing their parents is an affront to existing international laws which cite the potential psychological and emotional damage from such actions.
For years the Canadian government has separated families at the border, citing security concerns and the risk of child exploitation through possible human trafficking cases.
But the government recently acknowledged it had no evidence to support the reasoning behind the policy.
“We see migrants who are undocumented as huge criminals because they violate national sovereignty and security, but it`s not the case,” Crepeau said. “The vast majority of undocumented migrants are totally innocuous, so the scare should not be there.”
Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen says the government is continuously looking at ways to improve the system, citing both security and a welcoming process for newcomers.
“Once you get into movement of children between different countries and reuniting children with their parents, there’s a lot of issues that go into that with respect to identification, with respect to establishing legal custody and guardianship,” Hussen said.
Despite stated efforts, the Trudeau Government has been mostly quiet about how refugees and asylum seekers are processed, and any improvements to the system have yet to be announced.
All this comes at a time where this issue has once again been thrust into the spotlight after a Syrian refugee was arrested for the murder of a Canadian girl in British Columbia. The case is being used by hardliners to spotlight the refugee controversy at the expense of the Syrian-Canadian community.
Statistics Canada shows that despite cases like this, refugees and asylum seekers commit crimes at a lower rate than Canadian citizens. Immigration experts are encouraging Canadians to seek out facts regarding new Canadians before falling down the rabbit hole of fear, bigotry, and nationalism.
After all, the best way to ensure newcomers are adjusting well to coming to Canada is to make sure families are united once they arrive.
“The government should say that children need their parents,” Crepeau said. “Any Canadian [or refugee] child who has undocumented parents has the right to ask for their parents to be documented, period.”