Canada bringing back visa requirements for Mexican nationals to curb asylum seekers

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Canada’s new visa requirements for Mexican nationals are a ‘half-measure’ that fall short of the policies of Stephen Harper’s government that the Liberals overturned, according to CBC Radio-Canada journalist Louis Blouin. Blouin also says these measures could strain the diplomatic relations with Mexico.

Senior government sources tell Radio-Canada and CBC News that the federal government is restoring some visa requirements for Mexican nationals who visit Canada.

The new rules will come into force at 11:30 p.m. ET on Thursday.

Quebec Premier François Legault has been urging the federal government to do more to reduce the number of asylum seekers in his province. Last week, he said Ottawa should reinstate the visa requirement for Mexican travellers.

“The fact that Mexicans can enter Canada without a visa certainly accounts for part of the influx of asylum seekers,” the premier wrote in a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Mexico was the top source of asylum claims in Canada last year, with more than 25,000 Mexicans applying for asylum, according to statistics from the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada. The board currently has more than 28,000 pending claims from Mexico.

The U.S. government has also been pressuring Ottawa to bring back the visa requirement to stop a sharp rise in illegal crossings from Canada into the United States. Mexicans don’t need a visa to travel to Canada, but they do need one to enter the U.S. American border officials say some Mexicans are taking advantage of Canada’s visa-free rule to fly into the country and then cross illegally into the United States.

A government source told Radio-Canada that the new visa requirement will affect about 40 per cent of all Mexican travellers to Canada.

The Conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper introduced a visa requirement for Mexico in 2009 to curb the flow of asylum claims. The Trudeau government lifted it in 2016.

Source: CBC CA