Spike in Mexican refugee claims since visa requirement dropped

Visa drop's cause and effect

This week’s column is a lesson in cause and effect, looking back to 2009, when former Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper imposed a visa requirement on Mexican travellers visiting Canada.

What is a visa document? A visa provides a foreigner mobility to travel to and enter Canada and must be applied for prior to travel. (The 2009) visa requirement was implemented as a measure to reduce the rising number of fraudulent refugee claims from Mexico.

The Conservative government stated the cost of processing 9,400 asylum claims from Mexico in 2008 amounted to nearly $500 million for Canadian taxpayers.

In the 2015 election, Liberal Party Leader Justin Trudeau promised to remove the Mexican visa requirement if elected. He described Harper's approach to Mexican relations as "belligerent and borderline churlish."

Trudeau fulfilled that promise in 2016 after becoming prime minister. However, the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRBC) reports asylum claims from Mexicans began rising almost immediately after the visa requirement was lifted.

In 2016, there were 250 claims made to the IRBC, a number that spiked to 17,490 by 2023.

The removal of the visa requirement resulted in repercussions, such as a substantial rise in illegal crossings from Canada into the United States, as observed by the U.S. border patrol. That prompted the Biden administration in the U.S. to ask Canada to consider reinstating the visa requirement.

The surge in refugee applications from Mexico also created a severe backlog in the refugee processing system, leading to delays for those escaping life-threatening situations.

Given the gravity of the situation, the (current) Liberal government is considering all options, including the reinstatement of the visa requirement.

Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre has called for the government to reinstate the visa requirement for Mexican nationals visiting Canada.

My question to you this week:

Do you support reinstating the requirement for Mexican nationals to have a visa to visit Canada? Why or why not?

I can be reached at [email protected] or call toll-free 1-800-667-8711.

Dan Albas is the Conservative MP for Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola and the co-chair of the Standing Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations.

Before entering public life, Dan was the owner of Kick City Martial Arts, responsible for training hundreds of men, women and youth to bring out their best.

Dan  is consistently recognized as one of Canada’s top 10 most active Members of Parliament on Twitter (@danalbas) and also continues to write a weekly column published in many local newspapers and on this website.

Dan welcomes comments, questions and concerns from citizens and is often available to speak to groups and organizations on matters of federal concern. 

He can be reached at [email protected] or call toll free at 1-800-665-8711.

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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