COPE Vancouver calls on Canada to denounce U.S. detention of migrants

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      Ahead of planned vigils around the world to protest against the detention of migrants by the United States government, a Vancouver municipal party is calling on the federal government to take “immediate action” against detention of migrants in the U.S.

      In an open letter to Prime Minister Justine Trudeau, the Coalition of Progressive Electors called on Ottawa to “publically denounce the incarceration of children” and the violation of human rights at U.S. detention centres.

      “These violations have been documented and reported by U.S. Congress Commissions and United Nations envoys,” the letter stated.

      COPE said the government of Canada has an “official mandate to protect human rights on an international level, especially those of children and refugees”.

      “We demand that you uphold your responsibility as the Government of Canada,” the letter declared.

      The letter also called on the federal government to “immediately cease detention and separation of children from their families in Canada”.

      Citing the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA), COPE said that between 2017 and 2018, 144 minors were put in Canadian detention, while 110 minors have been detained since. The municipal party called it “a reprehensible, immoral, and harmful practice that must end immediately”.

      “We are requesting the end of this practice based on irrefutable scientific evidence and academic research from Canadian universities that suggest that children who live in detention centres, even for short period of time, experience increased symptoms of depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, and suicidal ideation,” wrote COPE cochairs Nancy Trigueros and Rider Cooey.

      The letter also slammed Finance Minister Bill Morneau and other executives responsible for buying $5.9 million worth of stocks as an investment for the Canadian Pension Plan from multiple U.S. companies investing in private detention centres. In addition, COPE called for them to publicly apologize. 

      Following the backlash, the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board sold its shares in two U.S. companies that operate detention camps along the U.S.-Mexico border.

      “COPE also asks the Government of Canada to take the necessary steps to legislate an end to the investment of public money in companies linked to unethical and discriminatory practices, such as the creation of detention centres that violate international human rights standards,” Trigueros and Cooey stated.

      COPE issued the open letter ahead of a vigil planned to take place on Friday (July 12) outside the Vancouver Art Gallery.

      The event starts at 7:00 P.M. with speakers, candle-lighting, and then protesters will walk toward the Trump International Hotel along West Georgia Street.

      Similar events are scheduled to take place around the world, aiming to show solidarity with migrants and protest against their incarceration in the U.S.

      The U.S. has drawn global criticism for mass detention of migrants upon their arrival to its southern border.

      The unsanitary condition of the U.S. migrant detention centres has further drawn outrage.

      United Nations Human Rights chief Michelle Bachelet said in a statement on July 8 that she is “appalled by the conditions in which migrants and refugees—children and adults—are being held in detention in the United States of America after crossing the southern border”.

      In a media release, Bachelet stressed that children should never be held in immigration detention or separated from their families.

      “I am deeply shocked that children are forced to sleep on the floor in overcrowded facilities, without access to adequate healthcare or food, and with poor sanitation conditions,” Bachelet added.

      Despite the global backlash, the Trump administration is still unapologetic about its practice of mass incarceration of migrants.

      So far, during the Trump administration, 24 migrants, including seven children have reportedly lost their lives in the U.S. custody.