January 12, 2017 — Canada has seen a notable increase in numbers of asylum claims from Mexicans since a visa requirement for travellers was lifted.
Figures show 70 Mexicans claimed refugee status here in December after the visa requirement was lifted as of December 1, 2016.
Canada has threatened to re-impose the visa restriction if it receives too many claims, although it has not publicised any limit.
- Mexicans Can Now Travel Visa-Free To Canada
- Canada Warns It Will Reinstate Mexico Visa Restriction If Asylum Claims Flood In
- Trudeau Ready to Grant Free Travel to Mexicans Against Official Advice
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.
There are also fears Trump’s anti-immigration policies could force Mexicans already in the U.S. illegally to try and make the move north to Canada.
Experts say Mexicans who are used to the standard of living may choose to try Canada instead of returning to their home country.
Since his election victory, Trump has vowed to deport or jail three million people who are in the U.S. illegally. On his plan to build a wall, the President-elect has suggested it may have to be just a fence in places.
It is not known exactly how many people per year make it across the U.S.-Canada border illegally, whether by boat, swimming or by land in remote areas. Figures show 487 were caught in 2011.
Quick Facts: The Canada-US Border
- Longest international border in world at 8,891km, 2,475km of which is with Alaska.
- 3 million Canadians travelled to the USA in February 2016, with 2 million moving in the other direction.
- 400,000people and $2.4 billion in trade cross the border each day.
- Canada and US are second and fourth largest countries in the world by area.
- Canadian provinces and territories on border: Yukon, British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick.
- US states on border: Alaska, Washington, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine.
A far greater issue is created by those who come on the premise of a visit and never leave.
Foreigners are drawn to access the country illegally because they know children will be allowed to go to school and health emergencies will be treated whatever their status.
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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