Immigration: The Canada Border Services Agency no longer wants to know how many children you separate from their parents

The story of a father separated from his two children at the Canadian border beforeCBSA He caused a stir in December 2020.

In this same report, Radio Canada also revealed that at least 182 children were separated from one of their parents detained at the Laval Immigration Control Center last year.

In response to this report, the agency pledged to compile national statistics for the first time in its history on minors separated from at least one incarcerated parent.

However, Radio Canada learned that the agency had adopted a much narrower definition of the children it had begun counting.

L ‘CBSA She confirmed to Radio Canada that only children separated from both parents or legal guardians are now counted. These minors are cared for either by another family member or by the Child Protection Agency.

In other words, if a child is separated from one of the parents who is in immigration detention, but remains in the community with the other parent, the agency no longer intends to take this into account.

Immigration Center Holdings in Laval. The Canada Border Services Agency also operates a holding center in Toronto and another in Surrey, British Columbia.

Photo: Radio Canada/Ivano Demers

Under this overly strict definition, six minors were separated from their parents between January 2022 and June 2022.

Children taken from a parent

I don’t think these numbers reflect the scale and extent of this problem.says in English Hanna Gross, from Human Rights WatchIt is a human rights organization. Ms. Gross is an immigration attorney who specializes in immigration detention cases.

When you don’t have a definition that takes into account the condition of children taken away from either parent, you can’t even begin to recognize the harm caused by the system.

it is clear thatCBSA It reneges on its commitment to account for all cases of family separation resulting from immigration detention. »

Quote from Hanna Gross, attorney, Human Rights Watch

The number of migrants detained during the pandemic has decreased, in particular, due to border closures.

usually ,CBSA More than 8,000 immigrants are imprisoned each year, including many parents.

The agency understands that the vast majority do not pose a threat to Canada. Mostly she detains them because she is afraid that they will not come to immigration procedures.

Hanna Gross of Human Rights Watch is an immigration attorney who specializes in immigration detention cases.

photo courtesy

Several studies have documented the harmful effects of detention among immigrants. Ms. Gross is herself the author of a report titled I didn’t feel like a human Immigrant detention in Canada and its impact on mental healthpublished June 2021.

Even after the children are reunited with their parents, the consequences of detention will not go away. I interviewed a woman who was separated from her children who told how after years of being reunited the children kept asking her to promise that she would never disappear again. Mrs. Gross says.

A police officer intercepts a family’s entry to Canada via Roxham Road in August 2017 (archive).

Photo: Reuters/Kristin Moshe

Which is very painful for parents who do not know how long they will be separated from their children. Overnight they can’t say good night to their kids, they can’t help them with their homework, they can’t take care of themas you say.

Essentially, detention deprives parents of their ability to act as protective forces for their children, which has devastating effects on the mental health of children and parents.

Agency required to maintain family unity

To comply with international law, the Trudeau government issued a national directive in 2017 that the Border Services Agency must end the detention of minors and the separation of parents, Except in very limited circumstances. According to this directive, families must be released conditionally or unconditionally in order to preserve family unity.

Members of the Border Services Agency walk past a tent housing asylum seekers in La Colle, Quebec in August 2017 (on file).

Photo: The Canadian Press/Graham Hughes

For experts like Hanna Gros, it is impossible to know whetherCBSA He fulfills his obligations, if the agency does not keep statistics on children separated from one of the parents.

Office of the Minister of Public Security, Marco Mendicino, responsible forCBSAHe will not say why he reneged on the promise he made at the time of his predecessor, Bill Blair.

Leave a Comment