Mexican ‘Refugees’ Arriving In Canada In Greater Numbers

(Photo: Getty)

David Krayden Ottawa Bureau Chief
Font Size:

Mexicans are seeking asylum in Canada at a rate that projections indicate will be at least four times greater than that of 2016.

The number of Mexicans claiming to be refugees at the Canadian border is already higher in 2017 than it was for the entire year of 2016.

According to the latest figures from the Immigration and Refugee Board, March indicated the the number of refugee claimants is increasing every month, with 110 new cases. With the figures from the first two months of the year factored in, that makes for 266 so far, already up from the 241 cases recorded last year.

The reason is linked to a decision by the Liberal government to waive the visa requirement for Mexicans traveling to Canada. An increase in refugees was anticipated by that move, specifically because the previous Conservative government had issued the visa requirement in order to reduce the numbers of Mexicans claiming refugee status when they entered Canada.

Mexico resented that decision and the new Liberal government said it was advisable to drop the mandatory visas with the certainty that NAFTA would be renegotiated. But Canada has suggested that visas could be reintroduced if asylum claims continue to escalate — as they are every month.

The government has even privately provided the Mexican government with a claim level that it says, if surpassed, will affect a change in visa policy. The government has not revealed that figure but it is believed to be much higher than the current rate of asylum seekers.

In 2008, the last year that Mexicans could travel to Canada without a visa before the Conservative government changed the policy, 9,000 people claimed asylum — 25 percent of all claims that year.

The visa requirement drastically reined in those numbers and by 2016, less than a dozen Mexicans a month were attempting to stay in Canada as refugees.

The financial cost of eliminating the visa requirement is estimated to be $261.9 million over 10 years, even after consideration is given to anticipated higher tourism revenue from Mexican tourists.

There are more flights from Mexico to Canada now, though this hasn’t led to a corresponding increase going in the other direction.

Most of the Mexicans are landing in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Follow David on Twitter