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Canada's Immigration Minister will alter visa rules for Mexican visitors.

Photo-The Statesman

Canada is set to reimpose certain visa requirements on Mexican nationals visiting the country, as confirmed by an official familiar with the matter to The Associated Press on Wednesday. The decision comes amidst calls from Quebec's premier to alleviate strains on resources caused by an influx of refugees. The new regulations, slated to take effect on Thursday, won't mark a complete return to pre-2016 rules. Instead, they represent a partial reversal of the visa-free travel policy extended to Mexicans in late 2016, a move aimed at improving bilateral relations between Canada and Mexico.

Canadian Immigration Minister Mac Miller is expected to unveil further details regarding the revised visa requirements. The lifting of visa restrictions in 2016 had been hailed as a significant milestone in bilateral relations, yet concerns have since been raised about a surge in asylum claims from Mexico. The reimplementation of visa requirements is anticipated to address this issue and potentially reduce illegal crossings into the U.S. from Canada. In 2023, Canada's Immigration and Refugee Board reported a substantial increase in asylum claims from Mexico, constituting 19% of total claims referred that year, compared to 12% in the previous year.

Refugee service providers in Montreal have attributed the rise in asylum claims to factors such as violence, insecurity, and limited job opportunities in Mexico. Canada's asylum policy reserves protection for individuals facing unsafe conditions across their entire home country, due to the inability or unwillingness of authorities to provide adequate protection. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador of Mexico suggested that Canada's decision may reflect broader conservative pressures within North America. He lamented the lack of respect shown by Mexico's neighbors and hinted at potential repercussions, including his possible non-participation in the upcoming North American Leaders' Summit in Quebec. Amidst ongoing negotiations, López Obrador underscored Mexico's efforts to control migration flows and urged for mutual respect and cooperation among North American nations.

The reimposition of visa requirements signals a shift in Canada's approach to managing immigration and addressing concerns about the integrity of its asylum system. As the nation grapples with evolving migration patterns and diplomatic dynamics, the decision underscores the complex interplay between security, diplomacy, and humanitarian considerations in shaping immigration policies.

March 1, 2024 2:32 p.m. 11532

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