￼The federal government is preparing for a potential surge in Mexican migrants coming to Canada after Donald Trump’s election victory, CBC News has learned.
Sources confirm high level meetings took place this week with officials at Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada and in other departments.
The news comes as Canada prepares to loosen rules for Mexicans to enter the country by lifting a visa requirement on Dec. 1. That restriction has been in place since 2009.
Talks on a plan to cope with a possible spike in asylum-seekers have been ongoing for some time, but were accelerated this week after Trump’s surprise win.
Trump campaigned on promises to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and to swiftly deport undocumented workers and illegal residents.
Lawyer predicts ‘significant impact’
Toronto-based immigration lawyer Lorne Waldman expects an increase in refugee claims from Mexicans once the visa requirement is lifted. He also predicts a “significant impact” from Trump’s election.
“The government was very concerned about the potential for a large number of new claims coming from Mexico, and that’s why they hesitated for so long before announcing that they were going to remove the visa,” he said.
“And that announcement was made before anyone knew that Donald Trump, with his very different immigration policies from those of the current administration, won the election.”
But Waldman cautioned it’s too early to tell exactly how the situation may unfold, saying it will depend on whether Trump follows through on his campaign pledges.
When Trump first launched his presidential bid in June 2015, he took sharp aim at Mexico, suggesting the country was unleashing criminals in to the country.
“They’re sending people that have lots of problems and they’re bringing their problems,” he said. “They’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime, they’re rapists and some I assume are good people, but I speak to border guards and they tell us what we are getting.”
In August last year, he released an eight-page policy paper on immigration that outlined plans to build a multi-billion-dollar wall along the Mexican border, but force Mexico to pay for it. He also vowed to detain and deport undocumented migrants and triple the number of U.S. immigration officers.
And just this September, he reiterated his hard-line commitment to remove illegal migrants en masse.
“There will be no amnesty,” Trump said at an Arizona rally. “Our message to the world will be this: You cannot obtain legal status or become a citizen of the United States by illegally entering our country.”
Potential abuse flagged
The possible Trump effect is on top of what some have flagged as a potential for immigration system abuse with the lifting of the visa requirement.
Conservative Immigration critic Michelle Rempel said the Stephen Harper government imposed the restriction in 2009 after ballooning numbers of bogus refugee claims from Mexico.
She accused the Liberals of making an “arbitrary” decision to lift the restriction without doing a formal study of the potential impact, or establishing new measures to prevent abuse.
“You don’t impose a visa on a nation that’s close to us in terms of trade unless there’s a serious, discernible problem. And there was,” she said.