Actions Call for Scrapping of Safe Third Country Agreement
More than 50 people took part in a rally on April 4, Refugee Rights Day, at the Toronto constituency office of Minister of Public Safety Marco Mendicino to demand an end to deportations, status for all undocumented migrants in Canada and for the scrapping of the Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA) with the U.S. Participants shouted We Want Justice! Status for All! Stop the Deportations! Status for All! and other slogans. A similar action was held on April 28 in Windsor, Ontario at the exit of the Windsor-Detroit Tunnel.
On March 4 the STCA, in effect since 2004, was extended to cover the entire border between Canada and the U.S. resulting in the closure of the Roxham Road unofficial border crossing in Quebec. This decision has already had tragic results. Eight people from two families, one from India and the other a Roma family from Romania, drowned after their small craft capsized while attempting to cross the St. Lawrence River into the U.S.
One of the speakers in Toronto addressed the plight of those who decide to undertake such dangerous crossings, pointing out that one of the two families who perished, the Iordache family, came to Canada as refugees in 2018 fleeing persecution by the Romanian state against the Roma peoples. Their two young children were born in Canada. Nonetheless their repeated applications for asylum were denied and they had exhausted all avenues to gain permanent status and were facing deportation when the family decided to flee to the U.S. Many Roma are denied refugee status by the racist Canadian state the speaker said.
Syed Hussan, Coordinator of the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change, called on everyone attending the rally to continue to stand together to hold the Trudeau government to account for its December 2021 commitment to bring in a regularization program. Nothing short of that will be acceptable, he said.
Following the speeches, more than 7,000 petitions garnered in less than 10 days were delivered to Minister Mendicino’s office by Hussan. He conveyed to the staff who received the petition the demands of the protestors and signatories.
The people’s demands were reiterated at a vigil held later in the day at the same location to commemorate the two families who died March 30 and all others who have fallen victim to the U.S. and Canadian government’s inhuman refugee and immigration policies.
Organizers of the Windsor action inform Empower Yourself Now that more regular actions will take place in the future to continue raising the demand to scrap the STCA.