Photo: Sean Kilpatrick La Presse canadienne Le ministre de l’Immigration, des Réfugiés et de la Citoyenneté, Marc Miller, a convenu récemment qu’il était temps pour le Canada « de serrer la vis » aux ressortissants mexicains.
Pressure is mounting on the Trudeau government to once again impose visa requirements on Mexican visitors to Canada, a measure now demanded by the two largest opposition parties in Ottawa. The number of asylum seekers from Mexico has exploded in recent years, and the rate of Mexican applicants obtaining refugee status is much lower than in other countries.
The Bloc Québécois claims to have been the first political party in Ottawa to link the question of immigration thresholds to the housing crisis, and thus to have addressed this question “in a calm, responsible manner”.
“Let's restore visas, it's the right thing to do right now because there are Mexican cartels, criminal organizations that have taken advantage of the breach to exploit the misery of the poor world”, asked Bloc MP Alexis Brunelle-Duceppe, on the sidelines of his party's caucus, in Saguenay.
Pierre Poilievre's party argues that “the Trudeau government created this problem and that it must now take measures to resolve it.” “Common-sense Conservatives are calling on the Trudeau government to reintroduce visa requirements to prevent further abuse of the asylum system,” the Conservative Party said in a press release.
Only the New Democratic Party opposes this request. “Reintroducing visas for Mexico will not solve the problem and will only stigmatize other Mexican immigrants,” Jenny Kwan, spokesperson for immigration and housing training.
“People move to improve their lives and the lives of their families. Some are fleeing persecution and terrible situations. We are all human beings, we deserve respect and to live with dignity,” she added.
The Trudeau government ended the visa requirement for Mexican nationals in December 2016. The Prime Minister had just promised during the election campaign to cancel this measure, introduced in 2009 by the previous government , under Stephen Harper.
The number of asylum seekers from Mexico has exploded in recent years. Data obtained by Le Devoir show that it increased from 260 in 2016 to 22,405 in 2023 (as of November). Canada welcomed an average of 2,037 Mexican asylum seekers monthly between January and November last year.
The Mexican Embassy in Canada, for its part, acknowledged “existing concerns regarding the increase in the number of Mexican asylum seekers in recent months.” “We will continue to promote collaboration and seek to identify new solutions that can address the legitimate concerns of Canada and its provinces while maintaining dynamic mobility between our nations,” she wrote in a press release on Wednesday.
No official decision has yet been taken in Ottawa, which is continuing its reflections on the approach to recommend. “Mexico is one of our main economic partners. So, a diplomatic approach is necessary,” declared Immigration Minister Marc Miller during the government’s ministerial retreat earlier this week.
“No matter what decisions we make with Mexico and other countries around the world, my job is to manage diplomatic relations. Of course, we have a good relationship with Mexico and we will continue to have one,” added Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly.
Minister Miller still agreed that it was time for Canada “to tighten the screws” on these nationals. “Two provinces suffer [the requests] disproportionately, and that is Quebec and Ontario,” he said, adding that Ottawa is nevertheless making “an effort” to redistribute asylum seekers in different parts of the country.
The Bloc Québécois also opposes the plan to cap the number of foreign students in the country announced by the Minister of Immigration. The Bloc believes that this measure “completely misses the target” and interferes with Quebec’s jurisdiction to decide the number of students accepted.
With Boris Proulx