OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he will not “play politics” over immigration policies when it comes to the controversial U.S. practice of charging and separating illegal migrants from their children when they cross the border into the United States.
The U.S. government is under fire over its “zero tolerance” policy, including from the chief of United Nations Human Rights Council, who calls the practice “unconscionable.”
During question period, NDP immigration critic Jenny Kwan urged Trudeau to suspend Canada’s Safe Third Country agreement with the U.S. in response to the policy, under which nearly 2,000 children have been separated from their parents and placed in holding facilities.
Trudeau says he won’t play politics over the issue, saying his role as prime minister is to stand up for Canadian values but also to maintain a constructive relationship with the U.S.
Meanwhile, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale says children of immigrants and refugees are detained only as a last resort in Canada and new measures will soon be rolled out to offer alternatives to detaining migrants.
Concerns have been raised in the past over the number of migrant children detained every year by Canadian border officials. Last year, 162 minors were detained or housed with their parents in Canadian immigration holding centres.