January 28, 2017 — Donald Trump’s plan to dramatically reduce the number of refugees welcomed by the U.S. puts an onus on Canada to keep its doors open, campaigners say.
With an estimated 65 million people displaced by the current global refugee crisis, Trump’s crackdown was described as ‘devastating news’ by one refugee campaigner.
The U.S. closing its doors would dramatically limit the options for refugees around the world.
Canada’s drive to welcome Syrian refugees in 2016 saw nearly 40,000 enter the country.
The federal government achieved its target of sponsoring 25,000 Syrian refugees in December, bringing the total number of Syrian refugees welcomed into the country since November 2015 to 39,271.
The government target is not to be confused with the initial surge to bring in 25,000 refugees by February 2016, as these were a combination of government, blended and privately sponsored candidates.
Syrian Refugees Entering Canada Since November 2015
|Blended Visa Office-Referred||3,923|
Source: Government of Canada
The federal government had its own target of sponsoring 25,000 by the end of 2016, and it achieved this in combination with the blended category, who are part-government and part-privately sponsored.
As the year ended, the rate of arrival rose to more then 130 per day, having dropped to as low as 11 in the summer following the initial surge to February.
The government recently announced it will limit the number of private sponsorship refugee applications it receives for Syrians and Iraqis to 1,000 in 2017, as it looks to clear the backlog already in the system.
This figure applies to applications only – an allocation of 25,000 resettled refugees is included in the 2017 immigration plan.
Trump’s policy specifically towards Mexico could see an increased number of asylum claims in Canada by Mexicans.
Canada recently dropped a visa requirement for Mexican travellers, but in doing so warned it would be reinstated if asylum claims surged.
There has been a notable increase in claims from Mexicans since the visa requirement was lifted.
Figures show 70 Mexicans claimed refugee status here in December, with the requirement lifted as of December 1, 2016.
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The Canada Border Services Agency says it received a total of 248 claims from Mexicans in 2016, compared to 111 in 2015.
The increase will be closely watched, although numbers remain significantly fewer than 2009, when the previous Conservative government imposed the visa restriction because more than 9,500 asylum claims were made by Mexicans.
Government analysis says lifting the visa requirement will cost $433.5 million over the next decade, partly offset by an expected $171.6 million boost to the economy through increased tourism, investment and trade.
Canada has also promised to lift a visa requirement for Romanians and Bulgarians during 2017, as part of negotiations that saw the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) signed in late 2016.
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