'No child should be put in a cage' - Greens call on Jacinda Ardern to condemn US immigration policy

The Green Party are urging Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to condemn the United States' immigration policy which is separating children from their parents, calling it an "egregious breach of human rights". 

Source: 1 NEWS

Green Party human rights spokesperson Golriz Ghahraman said in a statement that the separation and "mass detention" was unacceptable. 

Children were separated from their families over a six-week period in April and May after Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the new "zero-tolerance" policy that refers all cases of illegal entry for criminal prosecution. Prior procedure had limited prosecution for many family entrants.

Heart-breaking images of undocumented children crying have become the symbol of Trump's zero-tolerance policy on migrants. Source: 1 NEWS

The policy change was meant to deter unlawful crossings - and Mr Sessions issued a warning last month to those entering the US illegally that their children "inevitably for a period of time might be in different conditions".

Ms Ghahraman said it was "abhorrent to do it as a way to 'deter' their parents from seeking asylum or migrating to the United States, and New Zealand must condemn it."

"No child should be put in a cage. No government should use this as immigration policy," Ms Ghahraman.

"We cannot stand by and let this happen. We cannot let the inflammatory rhetoric being used by the US government go unremarked. We have to learn the lessons of history and see what’s happening in front of us and say it is wrong," she said. 

Ms Ghahraman said the Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade should express their opposition to the policy to the United States Ambassador. 

Simon Bridges, Winston Peters and Kelvin Davis were all critical. Source: 1 NEWS

Yesterday, Corrections Minister and deputy Labour leader Kelvin Davis described the policy as "cruel".

"A family is a family, and in my opinion families should be allowed to stick together."

Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters said it was about doing what was "right". 

"Would we do that? No, we wouldn't."

National Party leader Simon Bridges said you could "certainly see why" people like US First Lady Melania Trump were coming out against the policy.

"Separating families in this way seems inhumane."

President Donald Trump defended his administration's border-protection policies today in the face of rising national outrage over the forced separation of migrant children from their parents. Calling for tough action against illegal immigration, Mr Trump declared the US "will not be a migrant camp" on his watch.

Administration officials said they do not like the family separations either - calling it the result of legal loopholes - but insist migrants who arrive illegally simply won't be released or loosely kept track of.