Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Canada's Refugee Policy Risks Tearing Parents from Their Children, Activists Say

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Canada's Refugee Policy Risks Tearing Parents from Their Children, Activists Say

Article excerpt

Refugee policy hurts children, activists say

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MONTREAL - For the past month, Sheila Sedinger woke up every morning fraught with worry over the prospect of being deported to Mexico without her two young children.

But Sedinger, who came to Canada in 2005, was recently granted a stay, guaranteeing her at least two more years in Montreal with her eight- and six-year-old daughters while a custody battle with their father plays out.

Other families haven't been so lucky.

Activists and legal experts say Canada's refugee policy regularly threatens to break up families and often fails to take into consideration the interests of the children involved.

"We're very often in the business of tearing families apart," said Sharry Aiken, a law professor at Queen's University in Kingston, Ont.

"In the scheme of things, these are not the people that Canadian public immigration officials should be worried about deporting."

It's unclear exactly how often such cases come up.

The Canadian Border Services Agency doesn't track the number of instances where an individual is deported while their Canadian-born children stays behind, said Esme Bailey, a spokeswoman for the agency.

In a statement, Bailey said the best interests of the child are taken into consideration "at all times."

She added those facing removal have a number of options available for their Canadian-born children, including "finding a suitable guardian for their children in Canada, or, if there is no one who could assume guardianship, advising them to contact the provincial child protection authorities."

Overall, 10,505 failed refugee claimants were removed in 2013 and 4,632 so far in 2014, according to the CBSA.

The Montreal-based activist group Solidarity without Borders contends several recent claims in the city involving families suggest a worrying trend. …

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