Effective December 1, Canada will lift visa restrictions for Mexican travelers, according to reports.
The Globe and Mail, a Canadian newspaper, reported that the move comes with some conditions. The Canadian government wants assurances from Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto that Canada will not face a flood of Mexicans claiming refugee status.
According to the news report, the Canadian government, under the leadership of liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, is prepared to reinstate visa requirements if the number of asylum seekers exceeds 3,500 within 12 month period. This is the same government that pledged to take in 25,000 Syrian refugees last year, and hinted at welcoming an additional 25,000 by the end of the year. It is difficult to imagine that Trudeau's government will make a policy shift to restrict immigration flows.
The visa lift seems to also come with opposition from officials in the Department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship. They contended that Mexico's socioeconomic conditions were a significant push factor, which coupled with a significant pull factor such as the visa lift, will cause a spike in Mexican asylum seekers. It is estimated that this policy change could cause an increase to 3,500 asylum claims in 2017, to 6,000 in 2018, and 9,000 in 2019. Officials also expressed concern regarding Mexico's vulnerable passport system, which could be exploited by migrants from other Latin American countries seeking to enter Canada.
On the subject of an impending flood, all Canada needs to do is look to its southern neighbor. So long as the immigration polices of the country in question leave the borders open, people will come. During his campaign, Trudeau proposed that citizens of both countries (Mexico and Canada) should be able to move freely. Moreover, he recognized Mexico as a source of legitimate refugees, to be welcomed by Canada. As Trudeau fulfills his campaign promise, the United States ought to be concerned – already struggling to secure the southern border.
Prime Minister Trudeau, President Nieto, and President Obama will gather for the "Three Amigos" Summit on June 29 in Ottawa.