Trudeau Liberals reinstate Conservative directive on Mexican visas amid refugee crisis

The Trudeau Liberals eat a healthy helping of crow by partially reinstating a Conservative directive on Mexican nationals visiting Canada. Department of Immigration figures last September 30 showed 22,875 claims from Mexico last year.

Trudeau Liberals reinstate Conservative directive on Mexican visas amid refugee crisis
THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot and AP Photo/Edgar H. Clemente
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The Trudeau Liberals backtrack on a key immigration policy and are partially reinstating a Conservative directive on Mexican nationals visiting Canada.

As reported by Blacklock’s Reporter, Department of Immigration figures last September 30 showed refugee claims by Mexican nationals numbered 22,875 last year — the highest of any country, including Haiti (16,693 claims), and Colombia (9,754). The number of backlogged claims currently sits at more than 28,000, added CBC News.

They previously peaked at 9,511 in 2009, prompting the previous Conservative cabinet to impose visa requirements — which the Trudeau Liberals repealed in 2016. 

At the time, then-immigration minister John McCallum acknowledged "there were risks" in lifting the requirements but did not elaborate.

The decision has cost Canadian taxpayers $61.7 million annually, according to the immigration department.

While the Trudeau Liberals won't fully reimpose the rules, the new visa requirements will impact roughly 40% of all Mexican travellers to Canada, a government source told Radio-Canada.

Mexican nationals with select U.S. visas and those with valid work and study permits are not obligated to obtain Canadian visas, as well as those with valid visas spanning a decade. But Customs officers can now limit the duration of the visa or the number of visits, the source said.

The new rules will take effect at 11:30 p.m. ET on Thursday.

Ottawa has faced intensifying pressure from its American ally to return the visa requirement, owing to a sharp uptick in illegal border crossings from Canada.

Last year, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) recorded 4,868 apprehensions, reported CBC NewsThey also apprehended 2,000 Mexicans at the Canada-U.S. border in the first four months of this fiscal year, prompting U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to raise the issue last spring.

"We talk about this issue and many issues that impact the migration of people," Mayorkas said in an interview with CBC News Network's Rosemary Barton Live at the time.

"I think that's a decision that the Canadian officials are going to make," Mayorkas told Barton about the prospect of Ottawa reinstating the visa program.

Concerns have since emerged of a growing human smuggling network cashing in on Canada’s lax immigration policies.

Immigration Minister Marc Miller told MPs at the Commons immigration committee last October 24 that it appeared Mexican cartels played a role in the flood of new refugee claims. "There are certain facts I can’t disclose publicly but we are looking into them," he said.

"There are concerns at the border with respect to Mexican cartels?" asked Bloc Québécois MP Alexis Brunelle-Duceppe. "There are concerns about all forms of criminality at the border," dodged the minister.

"But Mexican cartels at the border are part of it are they not?" asked Brunelle-Duceppe again. "Yes, among others," replied Miller.

Opposition MPs have urged the federal government to reinstate those visa requirements for weeks.

"In 2016 the Trudeau government lifted visa requirements … leading to increasing fraud and abuse in the asylum system, straining Canada's ability to provide services and creating long processing delays for legitimate asylum seekers," said Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre.

In response, the Trudeau Liberals reinstated the Conservative directive on visas before Mexican nationals board their flights to Canada. 

The announcement follows an urgent letter from Québec Premier François Legault to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last week concerning the growing number of Mexican nationals seeking asylum in the province.

"Mexican nationals represent a growing proportion of the asylum seekers arriving in Quebec, the possibility of entering Canada from Mexico without a visa certainly explains part of the flow of asylum seekers," said Legault.

With Ottawa taking upwards of fourteen months to determine if a migrant is a refugee, provincial governments are legally obligated to offer them taxpayer-funded services, according to the Justice Department.

Québec forked up $576.9 million last year to cover the cost of social services for asylum claimants. That is in addition to $470 million for the previous two years.

Since 2021, over half (55%) of Canada’s growing migrant population resides in Québec, or 160,651 people out of 289,047, as reported by CBC News.

"Asylum seekers have trouble finding a place to live, which contributes to accentuating the housing crisis," Legault penned in his letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. "Many end up in homeless shelters, which are overflowing."

Immigration Minister Christine Fréchette told reporters it is “completely unreasonable” to expect them to provide services in excess of their capacity. 

As of writing, neither government has reached an agreement on appropriate levels of compensation. Although Ottawa sent $100 million to Québec for housing migrants, Fréchette called the support "insufficient."

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