As migrants die at the border, calls to end the asylum deal between the US and Canada are getting louder.

Na doden van immigranten aan de grens wordt de roep om beƫindiging van het asielpact tussen de VS en Canada luider

Dozens of protesters gathered outside Canada’s public safety minister’s office in Toronto on Tuesday to demand an end to an asylum deal between Canada and the United States after eight people drowned trying to enter Canada.

The deaths come less than two weeks after the Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA) was amended to allow refugees to seek asylum in the first safe country they arrive in.

Protesters handed a petition to Marco Mendicino, Minister of Public Safety, the ministry responsible for border protection and policing in Canada.

Syed Hassan, executive director of the Migrant Workers Alliance, the group that organized the protest, said the petition had thousands of signatures calling for an end to the STCA and permanent residency for all migrants.

“People continue to die. Denial of permanent citizenship has become a death sentence in this country,” Hasan added.

The STCA, which came into force in 2004, aims to limit the migration of asylum seekers. Under the original agreement, asylum seekers seeking to cross formal border crossings from the US to Canada or vice versa were turned away and told to seek asylum in the first “safe” country they arrived in.

As refugees began to enter Canada through illegal crossings, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pushed to change the agreement to include the entire US-Canada border.

Critics say the policies separate families and push migrants to try to cross the border through deadly informal routes.

Last week, a total of eight people from two families died as they tried to enter the United States by boat from Canada across the St. Lawrence River near Aquesasne, Quebec.

Canada and the US maintain that the STCA is the best way to manage the world’s longest land border.

“This deal will make it more difficult to cross our borders and we’ve known for years that people will still cross, but they’ll do it dangerously,” said Shalili Konanur, a lawyer with the South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario, which works with undocumented refugees.

“What else do you have to prove within days of strengthening the agreement? Eight people died. It won’t be the last time if we don’t do something about it,” Konanur added.

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