US treatment of migrants ’shocking and unacceptable’, says Coveney

Minister for Foreign Affairs backs all-party Dáil motion calling for immediate policy reversal

The US policy of separating children from their parents at the southern border has brought about a "shocking and unacceptable'' situation, Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney has said.

He told the Dáil on Wednesday he had no desire to become involved in a US domestic debate about immigration and, clearly, every state had the right, indeed, the duty, to police its own borders and enforce immigration laws.

“This duty should, however, be discharged in the case of all countries in line with international obligations and with respect for the human rights of all involved, especially children,’’ Mr Coveney added.

He was speaking in support of an all-party motion which condemned the policy as “inhumane, undignified and unwarranted’’ and called for its immediate reversal.

Rightly appalled

Mr Coveney said people had been rightly appalled by the images which had recently emerged of immigrant children being separated from their parents.

He said the dismay was also reflected in wider society across the United States, and members of the Dáil were by no means alone in voicing their concern.

Mr Coveney said he hoped “our friends in America’’ would take the comments in the spirit in which they were intended, as friends speaking truthfully to one another with a genuine concern.

‘Global leadership’

“I am speaking here as a friend, as someone who looks to the United States for global leadership,’’ Mr Coveney added.

“Against this backdrop, it is deeply regrettable to see the good name of America being damaged by the shocking images that have been seen around the world in recent days.’’

He said the policy of separating children from their parents was inhumane and simply wrong.

“This is not the America that I know and respect, nor is it in the best traditions of the great and generous American people,’’ he added.

Michael O'Regan

Michael O'Regan

Michael O’Regan is a former parliamentary correspondent of The Irish Times