Canada is bringing back visas for Mexican citizens as asylum claims soar

Canada is bringing back visas for Mexican citizens as asylum claims soar

Mexican citizens will once again need a visa to come to Canada after asylum claims from that country have soared over recent years.

Immigration Minister Marc Miller made the announcement Thursday morning in Ottawa, saying the change will take effect as of 11:30 p.m. Eastern.

“We have seen exponential growth in claims from Mexican nationals particularly in the last year,” said Miller at a news conference Thursday. “Measures had to be taken.”

Asylum claims from Mexico reached a record high last year, but more than 60 per cent were either rejected or withdrawn.

Click to play video: 'Quebec premier warns of ‘breaking point’ amid influx of asylum seekers, seeks help from Ottawa'

Quebec premier warns of ‘breaking point’ amid influx of asylum seekers, seeks help from Ottawa

“I don’t want to deny the right of someone to allege that they are fleeing violence and oppression,” Miller told reporters. “When you see those numbers, you see we have role to play in adjusting the volume.”

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“You start scratching your head and saying ‘increasing volume, low success rate,’ there’s a problem that has nothing to do with the IRB (Immigration and Refugee Board) and an independent judicial process and the government then has a right and a duty to take action.”

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The Liberals lifted the visa requirement in 2016, making it easier for people from Mexico to make an asylum claim in Canada.

Data from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada shows the number of asylum claims from Mexico increased more than 22,600 per cent since the year the Liberals were elected in 2015, to 25,236 in 2023 from 111 in 2015 in 2023 — the highest number of claims from any country last year.

The backlog of claims from Mexico currently sits at over 28,000, according to the department.

The changes to visa requirements will not apply to Mexicans who hold a valid work or student permits.

Mexican citizens will need an entry requirement known as an electronic travel authorization (ETA) if they hold a valid U.S. non-immigrant visa or have had a Canadian visa in the past ten years and are travelling by plane.

The Quebec government had told Motorcycle accident toronto today on Wednesday night that it had been informed by Ottawa that the federal government plans to bring back visa requirements for Mexican nationals, something Premier Francois Legault has been pushing for to curb the rising number of asylum seekers to the province.

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In that statement to Motorcycle accident toronto today, spokesperson for Quebec’s ministry of immigration, Maude Méthot-Faniel, said in French this is an important step forward, but will not solve everything.

She added Quebec takes in half of all asylum seekers in Canada and of these, 25 per cent are Mexican nationals.

Legault cited the steep rise in Mexican asylum claimants since then in a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last month, warning that his province’s services for refugees are reaching a “breaking point.”

But while Quebec is welcoming the visa reinstatement, the Mexican government is not.

In a statement Thursday, Mexico’s Foreign Affairs Ministry said, “Mexico regrets this decision and believes that there were other options available before putting this measure in place,” adding “Mexico reserves the right to act in reciprocity.”

While at a press conference a day earlier, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said Canada was on the verge of applying “unilateral measures” on Mexico to control immigration, on which he said his administration has always cooperated.

Miller said discussions have been underway for months and disagreed with the Mexican president’s characterization that Canada’s decision was made “unilaterally.”

“This is not something that happens in secret,” added Miller.

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López Obrador threatened to skip the upcoming North American Leaders or “Three Amigos” summit, set to take place in Canada later this year, if he feels Mexico isn’t getting “respectful treatment” on immigration and other issues from Canada and the U.S.

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