BC Premier John Horgan is the latest voice in a long line of criticism against the Trump administration’s policy of separating asylum-seeking families from their children.
“People around the world are horrified to see this unnecessary trauma inflicted on innocent children and families,” he said. “Our government condemns, in the strongest possible terms, the current US government policy.”
Now is the time, Horgan added, “for compassion and understanding, not cruelty and hatred.”
Horgan issued the statement this morning, as part of his overall statement on World Refugee Day, which is today.
“Welcoming refugees is part of our history, and part of who we are today,” he said. “Canada and British Columbia have been enriched by refugees for hundreds of years.”
Now, he continued, “we face the largest displacement crisis in history, surpassing even the Second World War. It is our collective responsibility to make sure we continue to provide refuge in the midst of this crisis, and into the future.”
Horgan’s comments follow similar ones made by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau this morning.
“What’s going on in the US is wrong,” said Trudeau. “I can’t imagine what the families living through this are enduring. Obviously, this is not the way we do things in Canada.”
On May 7, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions spoke in San Diego, California to announce increased enforcement along America’s southern border, stating that they would enact a “zero tolerance” policy for those attempting to make the crossing illegally.
“If you cross this border unlawfully, then we will prosecute you. It’s that simple. If you smuggle illegal aliens across our border, then we will prosecute you. If you are smuggling a child, then we will prosecute you and that child will be separated from you as required by law,” Sessions stated.
“If you make false statements to an immigration officer or file a fraudulent asylum claim, that’s a felony. If you help others to do so, that’s a felony, too. You’re going to jail. So if you’re going to come to this country, come here legally. Don’t come here illegally.”
According to a CNN article, before the ramped up enforcement adults caught immigrating illegally into the US were at risk of being prosecuted for a misdemeanour federal offence, though “previous US administrations generally didn’t refer everyone caught for prosecution.”
They were instead put into immigration proceedings, where they would typically try to qualify for an asylum claim.
In the month that followed Session’s announcement, CNN reported that approximately 2,000 children have been separated from their parents as they were caught crossing into the US, and were taken to facilities run by the Department of Health and Human Service’s Office of Refugee Resettlement.
This is a stark contrast to the 700 children that the Department of Health and Human Services told the New York Times had faced the same fate in the six preceding months.
– With files from Chandler Walter