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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks the United Nations General Assembly, at U.N. headquarters, Sept. 21, 2017.
Mary Altaffer/AP
Citizenship

Canada Will Track Trump's Border Policy to See if Asylum Seekers Are Still Safe in the US

After a US “zero-tolerance” migrant policy has ripped thousands of children from their parents at the US-Mexico border, Canada will now track whether or not the United States is still a safe country for asylum seekers.

Between April 19 and May 31, nearly 2,000 migrant children were separated from their parents at the US-Mexico border by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), according to the Associated Press.

The zero-tolerance policy sends children to detention camps being compared to prisons, and pushes adults into the criminal justice system.

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The United Nations has asked the US to put an end to this practice, calling it an ongoing human rights violation, and Canada is committed to tracking the situation.

"We have to see the impact of these changes on the domestic asylum system in the US to see whether the US continues to meet its obligations, not just to the international community, but also to the Safe Third Country Agreement," Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen told CBC.

But critics are encouraging the federal government to suspend the Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA) with the US, saying it is no longer a safe third country.

Read More: UN Accuses US of Human Rights Violations for Separating Migrant Families

Under the STCA, asylum seekers are forced to make their refugee claims in the first "safe" country where they arrive, unless they qualify for an exception.

"A safe third country is a country, other than Canada and the country of alleged persecution, where an individual may make a claim for refugee protection," according to the Government of Canada.

The government has said it will track the situation to determines its impact, stating that the US, Canada, and the UN refugee agency are reviewing its current state, CBC reported.

Read More: What's Happening to Migrant Kids in the US?

And while many, including New Democratic Party immigration critic Jenny Kwan and the NDP's leader in Parliament, Guy Caron, are pushing the Liberals to take action, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has yet to condemn Trump’s practice.

Both Caron and Kwan questioned whether or not the US can truly still be considered safe for asylum seekers at Parliament Monday.

"From the very beginning I have been very clear on the role that Canadians expect of me — to stand up firmly and unequivocally for our values, for our interests, to protect Canadians and make sure that we're doing well, as well as having a constructive relationship with the United States," Trudeau said in a heated question period. "That's what we're going to remain focused on."

Read More: Texas Detention Center for Migrant Children Compared to 'Prison'

Kwan retorted and reminded the prime minister again of the nearly 2,000 detained children south of the border, and that Trump’s policy has also removed the option to seek protection if at risk of domestic or gang violence.

"News flash to the prime minister, the human rights commissioner condemned this policy and called it unconscionable! This is destroying lives," she pressed.

Trudeau confirmed that Canada will continue to stand up for human rights around the world.

Read More: Melania Trump, Laura Bush Condemn US Policy of Separating Migrant Kids From Parents

"What we will not do is play politics with this," he said.

Canada tries to keep children out of detention centres as often of possible, but cases do arise.

From April 1 to December 31, 2017, there were 150 accompanied minors that were detained in Canada and just five that were detained without any parent or guardian, according to Canada Border Services Agency.

This draws a stark comparison between policies, but as Kwan aptly put it Monday, "If Canada does not step up, then we are complicit."

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