Newspaper article The Canadian Press

U.S. Child Migrant Policy 'Wrong,' Says Trudeau; Trump Changes Course

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

U.S. Child Migrant Policy 'Wrong,' Says Trudeau; Trump Changes Course

Article excerpt

U.S. child migrant policy 'wrong': Trudeau


OTTAWA - Prime Minister Justin Trudeau added his voice Wednesday to the global chorus condemning the Trump administration's practice of separating migrant children from their parents at the border -- a practice the U.S. president abruptly reversed later in the day with the stroke of a pen.

Trudeau had been under pressure to condemn the so-called "zero-tolerance policy," under which asylum seekers who cross illegally into the U.S. are charged with federal crimes and separated from their children, who are detained in guarded, fenced enclosures.

He'd remained largely silent on the issue, saying only that he did not want to "play politics" on immigration policy. On Wednesday, however, his position shifted, just hours before Trump appeared to capitulate to political pressure by reversing course with an executive order.

"What the Americans are doing is unacceptable -- and it's not just me who has said it; all kinds of Americans, including Republicans, have said this is unacceptable," Trudeau told a news conference marking the end of the spring legislative sitting.

"We take actions based on facts, not on fears or worries.... It seems they want to change their approach. We hope they'll improve the system, but as far as we're concerned this situation cannot last."

Earlier in the day, Trudeau made a point of delivering a statement as he entered the weekly caucus meeting.

"What's going on in the United States is wrong," he said. "I can't imagine what the families who are living through this are enduring ... this is not the way we do things in Canada."

Trump's decision to reverse the practice marked a significant turnaround for a president who has made his hardline approach to immigration a cornerstone of his political identity, and who insisted that federal law gave his administration no choice but to separate families apprehended at the border.

Illegal migrants in the U.S. will continue to face the "zero-tolerance" policy, which includes detention and criminal prosecution, but the executive order will allow families to remain together while in custody, expedite their cases, and seek departmental help to house families.

In Canada, the Trudeau government was again under fire over the Safe Third Country agreement with the U.S., which requires would be asylum seekers to make their claims in the first "safe country" where they arrive.

That designation no longer applies to the U.S. in light of what's happening at the Mexico/U.S. border, the Canadian Council for Refugees argued Wednesday. …

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