Feb 29, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Canada reinstates visa requirement for Mexican citizens amid asylum crisis

Image of bridge with a Canadian flag and American flag on it. Trees are in the background.

A view of the Rainbow Bridge border crossing in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada in November 2023. Photo: Mert Alper Dervis/Anadolu via Getty Images

Canada will reinstate a visa requirement for Mexican citizens on Thursday, the same day President Biden and former President Trump, 2024 presidential frontrunners, traveled to Texas to discuss their immigration policies.

Why it matters: While the U.S. also handles a border crisis with Mexico, the move in Canada is intended to address an influx of asylum seekers into the country.

What they're saying: "This responds to an increase in asylum claims made by Mexican citizens that are refused, withdrawn or abandoned," Canadian government representatives said in a statement.

  • "It is an important step to preserve mobility for hundreds of thousands of Mexican citizens, while also ensuring the sound management of our immigration and asylum systems."

What's next: The new rules go into effect on Thursday night.

  • Mexican citizens with a valid U.S. non-immigrant visa or who have held a Canadian visa in the past decade can apply for an electronic travel authorization if traveling by air with a Mexican passport.
  • People who don't meet those conditions will have to apply for a Canadian visitor visa.
  • The application process for Mexican citizens seeking a work or study permit will not change.

By the numbers: Asylum claims made by Mexican citizens reached a record high in 2023, at nearly 24,000 claims.

  • This figure rose from 260 in 2016 when the visa requirement was lifted.
  • Last year, about 60% of claims were rejected by the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada or withdrawn or abandoned by the applicant.
  • Mexican citizens made up about 17% of all asylum claims made in 2023 in Canada.

State of play: The Biden administration asked Canada to reimpose visa requirements for Mexican nationals, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reported last year.

  • U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported a spike in illegal crossings through Canada.
  • 191.603 encounters with people crossing into the U.S. along the northern border were reported in 2023, marking a 41% increase from the year before, the New York Times reported.

Yes, but: The situation along the U.S.-Canada border pales in comparison to that of the U.S.-Mexico border, where more than 2 million people were apprehended in 2023.

  • The issue of immigration has become a top worry of Americans ahead of the 2024 presidential election.
  • The migrants in the South are part of a humanitarian crisis with unprecedented migration in the Western Hemisphere.

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