Canada aims to avoid detaining migrant children, but it happens

June 20, 2018

The U.S. is the focus of international outrage for its policy of separating children from their parents and detaining them after they cross the border in search of asylum.

But 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.

Eleven others were held in custody unaccompanied by an adult, according to the Canada Border Services Agency. The CBSA would not speculate on the circumstances surrounding why a minor was unaccompanied. 

By comparison, the Trump administration has separated more than 2,000 children from their families since instituting a "zero tolerance" crackdown in April on those seeking to enter the United States illegally.

"What's going on in the United States is wrong," said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Wednesday. "I cannot imagine what the families are going through. This is not how we do things in Canada."

In Canada, CBSA holds people who are considered a flight risk or a danger to the public, and those whose identity cannot be confirmed.

Read more: Canada aims to avoid detaining migrant children, but it happens