October 10, 2017 – The number of Canada asylum claims from Mexican nationals has risen to nearly 1,000 in 2017.
The figure of 946 claims was revealed following a question to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration.
The figure is nearly quadruple the 250 claims received in 2016, and approaching 10 times the 2015 total, when 111 claims were received.
In December 2016, the Canadian federal government lifted the visa requirement for Mexicans wishing to visit Canada, against official advice. It has threatened to reimpose the visa requirement if too many asylum claims are received, although an official limit has never been published.
It has been reported that 3,000 claims in 2017 would see the policy reviewed.
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Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen’s office says an increase was anticipated following the relaxation of the requirement and that more time is needed to see if a trend is emerging.
The previous Conservative government put the visa requirement in place in 2009 following a surge in asylum claims. In 2008, there were 9,400 Mexican claims in Canada.
Unlike recent asylum claims from Haitian nationals, just 13 of the 946 claims from Mexicans featured illegal border crossings. The vast majority were made at official ports of entry.
Other figures also show how the increase in the number of Mexicans at the border is becoming an issue.
The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) says 2,391 Mexicans were detained between January and the first week of September 2017, compared to just 411 detentions in the whole of 2016.
Overall detentions of foreign nationals have also risen, to an average of more than 1,000 a month in 2017 from under 880 in 2016.
Deportations Rise Sharply
Deportation of Mexicans has also risen sharply since Canada’s move to withdraw the visa restriction.
Figures show 66 per cent more Mexicans have been deported so far in 2017 compared to the total figure for 2016.
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.
Immigration.ca Managing Partner Colin Singer said earlier in the year that he expected the number of asylum claims at the Canadian border from Mexicans to carry on increasing.
Speaking to the Daily Beast, Singer raised concerns that numbers like 2009 could return after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau lifted the requirement against official advice.
“We’re likely to go down the same path as before, which could create a problem for the current government,” Singer said. “That’s my hunch for what we’ll see once we have the numbers in hand.”
Foreigners are detained at the Canadian border if they are a flight risk once in the country, because of problems establishing identity, or if they are deemed a danger to the public.
“Red flags may come up, which may be indicative of whether or not they plan to remain in the country past authorization,” said immigration lawyer Singer.
“They may be given a voluntary departure or detained if unwilling to do so and they are deemed a flight risk or if it’s believed they may abscond and go underground.”
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