Amid Brexit anxieties, Trudeau and Peña Nieto miss the mark [Mexican visa removal commentary]

Good commentary by Steven Murrens on the removal of the Mexican visa requirement:

Secondly, on the travel issue, Canada agreed to lift a visa requirement on Mexican visitors, starting on Dec. 1. It was imposed a few years ago by the previous Conservative government, in response to a spike in Mexicans applying for refugee status in Canada. But the Canadian government made a point of stressing today that, when the visa is dropped, Mexicans would have to apply for a new permit, called an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA), before coming to Canada.

Steven Murrens, an immigration lawyer with the Vancouver firm Larlee Rosenberg, said the ETA is already proving an effective barrier against the sort of travellers the much-resented visa sought to discourage. The ETA will be required for travellers to Canada from all visa-exempt nations, except the U.S. That means Mexicans will be in the same category as, say, tourists from Europe and Japan, so they can hardly complain.

The online application for an ETA is much less onerous than applying for a visa. Still, Murrens says early experience suggests the ETA will be effective in weeding out problem travellers. “What we’re seeing, from people who are already starting to apply for it even though it’s not mandatory yet, is they do get refused for previous denials of entry to Canada, criminal issues, and…where people may have had previous issues in the United States,” he said.

In other words, on travel, Canada has found a less onerous system that still provides some additional screening. And, on trade, Mexico has finished a gradual process of phasing out trade restrictions. These are not headline-grabbing breakthroughs. They are the incremental signs of a normal international relationship, where friction is inevitable but doesn’t have to be permanently disruptive.

Source: Amid Brexit anxieties, Trudeau and Peña Nieto miss the mark

For the contrary perspective, former Conservative staffer Candice Malcolm, silent on the ETA requirement:

We attracted legions of human smuggling rings and known criminal networks, and spent billions of dollars propping up this charade.

We would get nearly 1,000 refugee claims per month from Mexico alone.

Hence why, in 2009, the Harper government brought in tougher laws and required people from Mexico to get a tourist visa before coming to Canada.

The policy worked. The number of asylum claims from Mexico fell sharply, and the Mexicans who did claim asylum in Canada were much more likely to be bona fide refugees.

But our Mexican counterparts didn’t like the visa. They found it embarrassing and inconvenient. And so, caving to international pressure, Trudeau announced this week he will remove the visa requirement for Mexican visitors.

When asked if the government had conducted a formal review of the Mexican visa policy, Immigration Minister John McCallum admitted it hadn’t.

Typically, Canadian rules only allow the government to lift a visa requirement for countries that make up less than 2% of the total refugee claims.

In 2008, the last year before we required a visa for Mexican travellers, Mexican visitors to Canada made up 26% of total asylum claims.

Scrapping Mexican visa a mistake

 

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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