Trump order will not end child imprisonment

Editor: An open letter to President Trump and Prime Minister Trudeau:

We are writing on behalf of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs. We have seen the horrifying pictures and listened to the audio recordings of immigrant and refugee children being torn from their families and jailed south of the medicine line. We fully condemn this atrocious state-sanctioned violence that is being perpetuated against immigrant children and families under President Trump's administration.

For many of us, this is reminiscent of U.S. and Canadian policies of Indian residential schools and Indian boarding schools, where Indigenous children were kidnaped and forcibly separated from their families and communities. Canada and the U.S.A. and the church committed acts of genocide as defined by the United Nations' Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. As Indigenous peoples, we have endured and survived, yet this continues today with policies of child apprehension that break our families and Nations across our lands.

The UBCIC recognizes and affirms the importance of standing with and supporting Indigenous peoples internationally. Our hearts break for the many Maya, Aztec, Zapotec, Olmec Indigenous children who are being jailed in child camps simply for traveling through their own traditional territories and those of their relatives. This is a violation of the United Nations Declaration the Rights of Indigenous People and the denial of inherent Indigenous rights to the land that Indigenous peoples have inhabited since time immemorial. The UBCIC is aware of instances of indigenous families being   torn apart due to Canadian and American immigration policies. Immigration officers routinely detain and deport spouses who are married into our Indigenous nations. This is a violation of our Indigenous rights and our customary marriage and adoption laws.

The Government of Canada's report on First Nation border-crossing issues details how indigenous people in Canada are negatively impacted by colonial border policies: "First Nations therefore view the imposition of the Canada-U.S. border, which in some cases literally divided their existing nations in two, as an unjustified lawful abridgement of their inherent rights which have a direct relation to their cultural survival." 

We oppose Trump's recent executive order claiming to stop this horror. (It) continues the "zero-tolerance policy” that criminalizes anyone who crosses the border without legal papers, including those seeking asylum. It does not end child imprisonment - it just means that the U.S. will now will imprison children in the same camp as their parents. This is also what Canada does. In 2016-2017, Canada jailed 162 minors in detention facilities. The UBCIC will not stand idly by while devastating and irreparable being committed to children and families. We stand with our allies like No One is Illegal on both sides of the medicine line and will continue to apply pressure to stop this gross injustice.

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip 

Chief Robert Chamberlin

Kukpl7 Judy Wilson