Fri. Feb 23rd, 2024

The measure could come into force in the coming months, Radio-Canada has learned.

Canada is working to reimpose visa requirements for many Mexicans

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Ottawa and Justin Trudeau are concerned about the possible political consequences of a reimposition of a visa with Mexico and its president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. (Archive photo)

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Entering Canada may no longer be so easy for Mexican nationals. Ottawa is working to put back in place barriers to entry into the country during the year in order, essentially, to reduce the number of asylum seekers.

Even if the final measure has not yet been adopted, several Liberal ministers are currently pushing for such a change, quickly, several sources close to the matter told Radio-Canada.

Mexico would have already been warned of Canadian intentions, we also learned.

According to our information, the reimposition of a visa for all Mexicans, as was the case from 2009 to 2016, is however not the option currently favored by the Trudeau government.

Ottawa should exempt from such an administrative procedure nationals who have been temporarily in Canada over the past ten years, as it already does with other countries.

Loading<em>Icon of the Seas</em> : navigate the quiet river of overconsumption

ELSEWHERE ON INFO: <em>Icon of the Seas</em> : navigating the quiet river of overconsumption

Thus, only new travelers would be affected by the obligation to have a visa. This category would represent the vast majority of asylum seekers.

The return of a control measure for Mexicans has been in the air for several months. The number of asylum applications from Mexico received by the Refugee Protection Section exploded last year, going from 7,483 in 2022 to 17,490 between January and September 2023.

Over the whole year, we would approach 25,000 requests, Radio-Canada has learned.

However, as Immigration Minister Marc Miller recently indicated, only nearly a third of these files are accepted.

In 2009, Stephen Harper's government decided to impose a visa on Mexicans when this number was close to the 10,000 mark. As justification, the conservatives had highlighted the high rate of refusal of these requests, but also the risks for national security.

Seven years later, Justin Trudeau withdrew this visa, to facilitate tourism and trade between the two countries, at a time when Canada was also renegotiating a free trade agreement with the United States.

This change in international policy has notably allowed Canadian companies and beef producers (New window) to access the Mexican market more easily.

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“Travel from Montreal to New York”, “fast, efficient and safe transport service”, offers from smugglers on social networks are numerous.

As demonstrated by Investigation, smuggling networks are now using this flexibility to smuggle Mexican nationals into the United States, via Quebec.

The manufacturing of false travel documents, allowing criminals to go to Canada, has also become commonplace in Mexico.

In recent years, the number of asylum applications submitted by Mexican citizens as well as the number of immigration violations committed by them has increased significantly, recognizes an Immigration spokesperson Canada.

The government remains committed to protecting the integrity of its immigration system, as well as the safety of Canadians. Canada is in regular communication with the Mexican government and is exploring various options to resolve these issues.

A quote from Matthew Krupovich, spokesperson for Immigration Canada

These risks were nevertheless known to the Trudeau government when it announced the abolition of this visa.

As indicated in a note produced (New window) by the Ministry of Public Security in 2020, “when lifting the visa requirement, the government established a threshold for asylum requests which provides for a new review of the visa waiver”.

Despite these constant increases, no change has nevertheless taken place until now, which has pushed the Premier of Quebec , François Legault, to raise his voice by writing to Justin Trudeau.

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François Legault asked Justin Trudeau to “close any breach that would allow criminal groups to infiltrate into Canada. (File photo)

According to current forecasts, this important change could come into effect in “the coming months”, we were told.

An implementation this spring, possibly around April, would even be hoped for, confides a federal source.

Ottawa, however, is walking on eggshells in this matter and is moving forward with apparent reluctance. By announcing the return of this visa too quickly, the Trudeau government fears, for example, a massive rush of Mexican asylum seekers towards Canadian airports.

Diplomatic risks would also be high, we argue behind the scenes.

The intention is to limit the flow excessive [of asylum seekers]. [But] there is still a diplomatic process to be completed, explains another source.

While the shadow of a return of Donald Trump looms over the United States, Canada wants to avoid alienating one of its main allies, who will elect a new president this year.

Moreover, the “operational challenges” are significant, since Ottawa will have to refill its embassy in Mexico, adding a significant number of ;agents to analyze the potential thousands of visa applications.

It will be necessary to ensure that this office has sufficient staff, indicates lawyer Laurence Trempe, specializing in immigration, citing applications for study permits and work permits.

In addition to Mexican tourists, thousands of temporary workers, particularly in the agricultural sector, also benefit from the current system to reach Canada more easily.

These workers will have to go through consular procedures in the future, she continues. We will have to think, for them, about priority processing of their requests.

It We must ensure that Canadian and Quebec companies are not affected by unreasonable delays in bringing in Mexican workers.

A quote from Laurence Trempe, immigration lawyer

“And even for visitors in good faith, the delays will have to be reasonable and we will not “I don't have to wait 6 months to come, for example, to a friend's wedding in Canada”, underlines this lawyer.

But will this new measure really have an impact? In the short term, certainly, since the number of asylum seekers arriving by air will drop, replies Laurence Trempe.

But the “History has shown us, as with the closure of Roxham Road, that when a door closes, people find another way to enter the country,” she says.

Criminology researcher Valentin Pereda shares the same opinion. For organized criminal groups, the imposition of a visa is not going to be a huge constraint, indicates the assistant professor at the University of Montreal.

Even if, in the short term, these additional constraints could pose a problem, in the medium and long term, there should not be a huge effect. These groups will adapt, he believes.

If it didn't work in the United States, why would it work in Canada? In terms of crime, it is a measure that is more symbolic than effective.

A quote from Valentin Pereda, assistant professor at the University of Montreal

We see it in the United States, specifies Valentin Pereda. The Americans have imposed visas on Mexicans for a long time, yet there is still significant drug trafficking between the two countries.

With the collaboration of Louis Blouin

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