OTTAWA, ON. (NEWS 1130) – After being called out for not speaking up sooner, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is finally weighing in on the controversial Trump administration immigration policy that separates children from their parents.
He spoke to reporters briefly on his way into a caucus meeting on Parliament Hill this morning.
“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.”
Until today, Trudeau had only said he would not play politics over the issue.
BC Premier John Horgan is also speaking out about the policy.
In a statement he says, “Our government condemns, in the strongest possible terms, the current US government policy to separate asylum-seeking families from their children. People around the world are horrified to see this unnecessary trauma inflicted on innocent children and families. It is time for compassion and understanding, not cruelty and hatred.”
Pope Francis is adding his voice to the growing list of people slamming the Trump administration. In an interview with Reuters at his Vatican home, published on Wednesday which is World Refugee Day, Francis said he supported the statements by some US Catholic bishops who called the separation of children from their mothers and fathers as both “immoral” and “contrary to our Catholic values.”
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said earlier an executive action for President Donald Trump was drafted that directed her department to keep families together after they are detained crossing the border illegally.
Trump signed it, adding the “zero-tolerance” prosecution policy will continue.
The effort marks a dramatic departure for an administration that has been insisting, wrongly, that it has no choice but to separate families apprehended at the border because of the law and a court decision.
Nielsen, the president and other officials have repeatedly said the only way to end the practice is for Congress to pass new legislation, though both Democrats and some Republicans have said the president could reverse it with a simple phone call.
The news in recent days has been dominated by searing images of children held in cages at border facilities, as well as audio recordings of young children crying for their parents.
One of the people familiar with Nielsen’s thinking said she believes there is no certainty that Congress will act to fix the separation issue.
Asked about the possibility of an executive order on immigration, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters: “We’ll keep you posted. When we have an announcement to make, we’ll make it.”
Trump had tweeted earlier Wednesday that he was “working on something.”
“It’s the Democrats fault, they won’t give us the votes needed to pass good immigration legislation. They want open borders, which breeds horrible crime. Republicans want security. But I am working on something – it never ends!” he wrote.
Homeland Security officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
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 US 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.