Goodale Wants CBSA To End Detention Of Child Migrants

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Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Minister Ralph Goodale arrives to appear as a witness at a National Security and Defence Senate committee in Ottawa on May 30, 2016. (Photo: Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press) | CP

OTTAWA — Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale says he wants to end the Canada Border Services Agency's practice of detaining child migrants. 

Goodale told a Senate committee today his department is looking at alternatives to locking away children, but he suggests the issue is a complex one that requires study. 

In a confidential inspection report made public in January, the Red Cross says Canada should jail child immigrants only as a "last resort" and must find alternatives to detention for such vulnerable newcomers.

child migrants canada
A Syrian refugee child displays his serial number as his family register their information at the Canadian processing centre for Syrian refugees, during a media tour held by the Canadian Embassy in Jordan, at Marka airport, Amman, Jordan on Dec. 8, 2015. (Photo: Muhammad Hamed/Reuters)

The border services agency holds people who are considered a flight risk or a danger to the public, and those whose identities cannot be confirmed.

The Red Cross says the border agency detained 10,088 immigrants — almost one-fifth of them refugee claimants — in 2013-14 in a variety of facilities, including federal holding centres and provincial and municipal jails.

Among these were at least 197 minors, held an average of about 10 days each.

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