More Mexicans were detained at the Canadian border in just over two months at the start of 2017 than the annual total in each of the last three years, new figures reported by Reuters show.
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.
The figures come after Mexicans were granted visa-free travel in December 2016, a move made by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau against official advice.
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Meanwhile, Donald Trump has set about his USA immigration crackdown since becoming president, forcing many Mexicans looking for a better life to switch focus to Canada.
Coming from a visa-exempt country, Mexicans now only need an Electronic Travel Authorization to come to Canada, obtainable online for a small fee.
It does not guarantee entry, as travellers can still be turned away on a case-by-case basis by border agents.
Further figures show more than 72,000 eTAs were issued to Mexicans between December 1, 2016 and March 10, 2017. Meanwhile, January 2017 saw 313 Mexicans rejected by airport border officials.
Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen’s office says figures come from too short a time to identify a trend.
Canada has threatened to re-impose the visa restriction if it receives too many asylum claims, although it has not publicised any limit.
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.
The move came despite Canada saying they use reciprocity when setting visa requirements.
The European Union changed its rules in 2014, to state that any country awarded visa-free access to the bloc must grant the same privilege in return.
Affected countries including Canada and the U.S. were given two years to comply, which Canada did reluctantly after the issue became linked to the CETA deal.
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