Following the December 1, 2016 announcement by the Liberal government that Mexicans will no longer require visas to travel to Canada, the number of Mexican asylum seekers jumped to 248 in December, as compared to 111 for the same period in 2015, reported the CBC.
The visa restrictions were first imposed in 2009 by the previous Conservative government after a spike in asylum applications, many of which were ultimately rejected by Citizenship and Immigration Canada as “invalid”.
The new policy, first announced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in June during a state visit to Canada by the President of Mexico Enrique Peña Nieto, is designed to “deepen ties between Canada and Mexico” and “increase the flow of travelers, ideas and businesses between both countries”.
At that time, Michelle Rempel, Critic for Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship criticized the federal government’s decision to lift visa requirements on Mexican nationals. In a statement, Rempel said the following:
“Between 2005 and 2008 before the visa was put in place, Mexicans made up 25% of all refugee claims filed in Canada, which is a staggering number. In addition, the ongoing reports of increasing levels of state violence and corruption do not inspire confidence in the integrity of their passport controls.
“Trudeau has disregarded expert analysis and evidence, and taken a political decision that puts the security of Canadians at risk. If security isn’t a concern, then why do most countries – including and especially the United States – require a visa for Mexican Nationals?
“The decision to lift the visa appears to be a completely political quid pro quo, rather than a decision based on evidence and Canada’s national interests. Conservatives call on the Liberal Government to make its visa decisions based on evidence and follow the formal process.”
The increase in asylum application is projected to cost the Canadian taxpayers about $262 million over the next decade, which, according to the analysis, could be partially offset by an increase in tourism and investment and trade opportunities from Mexico.
Ilana Shneider is the co-editor of CIJnews and the founding executive director of Canada-Israel Friendship Association, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the mutually beneficial, long-standing diplomatic, economic and cultural ties between Canada and Israel. She can be reached at [email protected]