Spread the love

Mexico says it is unhappy with the return of visas for its nationals

Photo: Adrian Wyld The Canadian Press “I did not have any indication, when I spoke to the Minister of Foreign Affairs [of Mexico], that there would be trade measures that would be put into force,” said Minister Marc Miller.

The Mexican government “regrets” Ottawa’s decision to reimpose visas on its nationals in order to curb the flow of asylum seekers. In a Spanish-language statement released Thursday, Mexico's Foreign Ministry said “there were other options before implementing this measure” and that the country reserved the right “to act reciprocally “.

Federal Immigration Minister Marc Miller confirmed Thursday morning that Canada was reintroducing the visa requirement for Mexican nationals in order to curb the significant increase in the number of asylum applications observed since it was lifted in 2016. .

The measure will come into effect on Thursday at 11:30 p.m., and will only apply to approximately 40% of travelers to Canada annually. Nationals who have already obtained a visa in Canada in the last 10 years will be exempt from this measure, as will Mexicans who have come to study or work in the country. They will, however, need to obtain an electronic travel authorization.

A chance given to Mexico

Minister Miller admitted Thursday morning that the Mexican government was “unhappy” with the decision. However, he is not afraid that it will have repercussions on trade. “Mexico is a sovereign country that has the right [to] take whatever action it pleases. That said […], I had no indication, when I spoke to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, that there would be trade measures,” he noted at a press briefing in Ottawa .

Discussions about the “exponential growth” in the number of Mexican asylum seekers had been taking place behind the scenes for several months, but no satisfactory solution had been found to prevent the reimposition of the visa, Minister Miller said. “We had to give Mexico a chance, because of our friendship, to make things right. It is clear that this was not done in time. The measures proposed [by Mexico] could not have been put in place in time to really stem the flow of applicants. »

Also read

  • Ottawa will reimpose visa requirements on Mexican nationals
  • Do Mexicans have reason to seek asylum?

The Conservative Party of Canada and the Bloc Québécois called for the imposition of this measure to “prevent further abuse” of the asylum system. Only the New Democratic Party opposed this request, indicating that this reintroduction would only stigmatize other Mexican immigrants. “[The Prime Minister] should never have made this mistake. And today, Canadians are paying the price,” said Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre on Thursday, adding that Quebec had reached a breaking point in its reception and integration capacity.

The government of Justin Trudeau ended the visa requirement for Mexican nationals in December 2016. The Prime Minister had promised during the election campaign to cancel this measure introduced in 2009 by the Conservative government of Stephen Harper.

Quebec demands more

François Legault and his Minister of Immigration, Christine Fréchette, both welcomed Ottawa's decision. But they reiterate that more measures will be needed.

“The federal government is doing a good thing. But what do we do with the 528,000 temporary immigrants, then the 160,000 asylum seekers that we currently have ? We are going to need a much greater reaction,” said the Premier of Quebec on Thursday, during a press briefing in Morin-Heights. “It’s an important step that has just been taken, but it won’t solve everything. The number of asylum seekers welcomed by Quebec is far too high and our services are saturated. The federal government must distribute asylum seekers throughout Canada,” said Minister Fréchette.

The latter also welcomes having put pressure on the federal government, arguing that “this announcement is proof that Quebec is able to make itself heard in Ottawa”.

In a letter sent to Justin Trudeau at the start of the year, Prime Minister Legault urged his federal counterpart to curb the influx of asylum seekers into Quebec, otherwise the province would reach a “breaking point”. The number of asylum seekers from Mexico increased from 260 in 2016 to 22,405 in 2023 (as of November).

Minister Miller acknowledges that pressure from Quebec and Ontario, the two provinces receiving the most asylum seekers, “played an important role” in the decision to reimpose the visa. “We see ourselves that there are unacceptable flows and [that] the acceptance rates [are too low]. We see that Mexican nationals are withdrawing their application, leaving or not having success… This weighs in the decision,” he clarified.

The number of asylum seekers from Mexico has exploded in recent years, with them accounting for 17% of all asylum seekers in 2023. And the acceptance rate for Mexican asylum applications is “in the low 30%, 40%,” while it is “80%, 90%” for those made by Colombians, Mr. Miller argued.

Quebec is demanding more than a billion dollars from the federal government in compensation for expenses incurred in welcoming asylum seekers over the last three years.

A decision in progress

Asked about the duration of the measure announced Thursday, Minister Miller specified that this reintroduction of the visa could be reviewed in the long term. “Right now, it’s an evolving discussion. I don't want to say that this measure is permanent: it could be revised. But it would take a significant decline and measures in Mexico to curb the factors that cause people to come here illicitly. »

Ottawa is also not ruling out the possibility of imposing similar measures on other countries whose nationals file asylum applications in large numbers in Canada, such as Nigeria, India or Haiti. On the other hand, “the success rates [for these countries] are very high. These are people fleeing war and oppression. The adjustments that we would make must not have any prejudice to their rights, so the measures would not be as [important] as the one announced today,” explained Minister Miller.

For his part, the Quebec Prime Minister did not want to discuss this possibility. “There was a specific problem with the Mexicans. But we must reduce the number of asylum seekers, so nothing is excluded,” said François Legault.

Quebec estimates that it receives 55% of asylum seekers who arrive in Canada. But a quarter of them would leave the province, specifies the federal government.

With François Carabin

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116