Canada Reimposes Visas For Mexican Travelers

Canada reimposes visas for Mexican travelers

Ottawa, (APP - UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 1st Mar, 2024) Canada announced Thursday the immediate reimposition of visas for visiting Mexican nationals in response to a recent jump in asylum claims from the country -- a move decried by Mexico which is now considering reciprocal actions.

"Mexican citizens will have to obtain a visa to come to Canada from now on," Immigration Minister Marc Miller told a news conference, explaining the need to preserve "the viability" of Canada's immigration and refugee system.

There will be some exceptions, he said. Mexican citizens traveling to Canada will be able to request a simple electronic travel authorization if they have held a Canadian visa in the last decade or if they have a valid visa for the United States.

"An increase in illegitimate claims that don't even have the prospect of succeeding does put pressure on the system and the social supports that these people get by simply being on Canadian soil," Miller said. "It has ripple effects across the system."

Mexico's foreign ministry reacted by saying that "Mexico regrets this decision and believes that there were other options available (to address the migrant surge) before putting this measure in place."

"Mexico reserves the right to act in reciprocity," it added in a statement.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, meanwhile, said he would raise his concerns with his Canadian counterpart, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

"We're going to look for options, alternatives. We cannot break relations with Canada... because the economic trade is very good," he said at his regular news conference.

- 'Breaking point' -

Immigration data showed Mexicans made up 17 percent of all refugee claims in Canada in 2023.

The number spiked from just 260 claims in 2016 when a previous visa requirement was lifted, to nearly 24,000 last year. Most of the recent claims were rejected or withdrawn by the applicants.

Canadian visa requirements for Mexicans had been imposed by a previous conservative government in 2009 to stem a similar migrant uptick at that time.

Quebec province recently complained in a letter to Trudeau that the situation had reached a "breaking point," and demanded action to mitigate the flow of migrants.

The Trudeau government has faced growing pushback from provincial governments amid a housing crunch, over its immigration scheme that aims to bring in 500,000 immigrants each year.

The arrival of one million immigrants in the 12 months to July 1, 2023 pushed Canada's population to over 40 million, and several provinces, which are responsible for health care and education, have said they are struggling to keep up.

Miller noted that some Mexican nationals have been "coming through Canada and then going to the US," which has put pressure also on the United States.

Of course, these numbers pale in comparison to the number of migrants arriving at the United States' southern border, he added.

Miller acknowledged the Mexican government's dissatisfaction with the new visa requirement.

"We attach great importance to our close ties with Mexico," he said. "Mexico is and will remain an important partner."

He suggested Mexico could help curb the uptick in migration by cracking down on criminal gangs that are driving some of the migrants to flee to Canada as well as fake passports.