Mexico Among the Top Nationalities Seeking Refugee Status in Canada Following Changes to Ease of Entry
According to a recent Global News article, Mexico is again a leading source of refugee claims due to a change in Canadian visa requirements. Prior to December 2016, Mexicans required a travel visa to enter Canada. The former Conservative government introduced this requirement in 2009 to reduce the number of asylum claims made by Mexicans. According to a now-declassified Intelligence Brief, those numbers have surged yet again.
In 2009, Mexico was the leading source country for refugee claims in Canada, peaking at 9,000 for that year alone. However, most of these claims were rejected. Following the introduction of the visa requirement, refugee claims fell significantly down to 86 in 2014, and 111 in 2015.
Justin Trudeau promised to lift the visa requirement for Mexicans as part of his 2015 election platform. Trudeau’s goal was to strengthen Canada’s relationship with Mexico, improving business, travel, and the exchange of ideas between Canadians and Mexicans.
Following the lifting of the visa requirement on December 1, 2016, the number of asylum claims from Mexico climbed again, making it a top source of refugee claimants. Mexico is sixth after Haiti, Nigeria, Turkey, Pakistan, and India. The Intelligence Brief connecting the increase in Mexican asylum claims with the lifting of the visa requirement comes from a Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) report.
Increase in Claims, Positive Results
In 2017, there were 1,500 asylum claims from Mexican citizens, six times higher than 2016. However, only 25 percent of Mexican refugee claims were accepted. The other 75 percent were either abandoned, rejected, or withdrawn. The majority of claims were made in Quebec, and mostly in Montreal’s Trudeau airport.
The majority of these Mexicans claimed refugee status for fear of drug cartels in Mexico. Drug cartels have been linked to rampant violence and mass murder in Mexico. The violence in Mexico and hostility towards immigrants in the U.S. have made Canada a top destination for those seeking asylum. Canada is also seen as a relatively crime- and corruption-free country—a place of refuge from violence.
Although the majority of refugee claims are rejected, the lifting of the visa requirement has made it easier for Mexicans to visit Canada as tourists. Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada spokespeople have commented that Canada and Mexico continue to cooperate on issues that emerge because of the lift. And more importantly, it has given those fleeing violence a chance to claim refugee status in a safer country.