More than 600 rallies will be taking place around the world - including in Canada - on Saturday June 30 as part of a day of action against US President Donald Trump's child separation and family detention policies.
The Associated Press has reported, "The administration recently put into place a 'zero tolerance' policy in which all unlawful border crossings are referred for prosecution – a process that moves adults to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service and sends many children to facilities run by the Department of Health and Human Services. Under the Obama administration, such families were usually referred for civil deportation proceedings, not requiring separation. The policy had led to a spike in family separations in recent weeks, with more than 2,300 minors were separated from their families at the border from May 5 through June 9, according to the Department of Homeland Security."
When public opposition mounted against this child separation policy, Trump signed an executive order enforcing family detentions.
The Huffington Post has reported, "Trump rolled out his alternative to systematic family separations at the border last week with a new plan: a massive increase of family detention. Rather than separating children and parents apprehended at the border, Trump signed an executive order on [June 20] that requires the Department of Homeland Security to detain families together and asks the military to make space available for detention facilities. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the agency charged with detaining migrants facing deportation, followed up [June 22] with a Request for Information asking contractors to submit proposals for the creation of 15,000 more family detention beds."
The rallies in Canada vs Trump's policies will also highlight:
1- Between the 1880s and 1996, 150,000 Indigenous children were separated from their families and sent to residential schools by the federal government. More than 6,000 children died at those schools. Pam Palmater has written, "Today, there are more Indigenous children in state care than during the residential school era. Nationally, there are 30-40,000 children in care and in some provinces, like Manitoba, Indigenous children represent 90 per cent of all kids in care." Furthermore, CBC reports, "From the 1950s through the 1980s, thousands of Indigenous children were taken from their families and communities placed with non-Indigenous families."
2- The CBC has also reported, "Canada has also detained migrant children - and in some cases, has restricted access to their asylum-seeking parents - despite its stated policy to do whatever possible to avoid it. Last year, 151 minors were detained with their parents in Canadian immigration holding centres. The Canadian holding centres, which are off limits to the public, resemble medium-security prisons. They are surrounded by razor-wire fences and kept under surveillance by guards. There are three such facilities across Canada, in Vancouver, Toronto, and Laval, Que. In some provinces, asylum seekers are detained in prisons."
3- Under the Canada-US Safe Third Country agreement (signed by Liberal prime minister Paul Martin and Republican president George W. Bush in 2002 and enacted in 2004), the United States is designated as a safe third country by Canada under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. The Globe and Mail explains, "That means virtually all asylum seekers attempting to enter Canada through a U.S. port of entry will be turned away." Global News adds, "It is based on the assumption that the immigration systems in both countries are equally fair and robust in their consideration of such claims." The Trudeau government is considering "modernizing", not suspending the agreement.
To date, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has not condemned Trump's child detention policy, but on June 20 he commented on his child separation policy noting, "What's going on in the United States is wrong. I can't imagine what the families living through this are enduring. Obviously, this is not the way we do things in Canada."
In Canada, there were be rallies in Niagara and Ottawa (on June 29), Edmonton, Guelph, Halifax, Hamilton, Kitchener, Lethbridge, London, Ottawa, St. Catharines, St. John's, Toronto, Vancouver, Victoria, and Winnipeg (on June 30), and Toronto (on July 1). For details on these protests, please click here.