Trudeau says Mexican organized crime involved in asylum claims

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OTTAWA – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his government is in talks with Mexico to reduce the number of asylum claimants from that country arriving in Canada, admitting many of those people are coming with the help of organized crime.

Trudeau was asked about immigration Friday at a fireside chat hosted by the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce. He said there are concerns about the number of asylum claimants

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“We’re in conversations with Mexico about making sure that the number of asylum seekers, some of them supported by organized crime in Mexico to come up to Canada, are reduced,” he said.

Canada received 17,500 asylum claims from Mexico between January and September 2023, according to the latest data available — more than any other country. Of those claims, just under 5,000 were reviewed and 1,956 were accepted, with the rest either rejected or withdrawn.

The number of backlogged claims in front of the immigration and refugee board from Mexico alone is now 22,875.

The Harper government imposed a visa requirement on Mexican nationals in 2008 in an effort to limit the number of asylum claimants, but that requirement was lifted by the Trudeau government in 2016. Before the visa requirement was lifted there were only a few hundred asylum claims from Mexico in a given year.

Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre has called on the government to reimpose the visa requirement, arguing it has led to a huge surge in asylum claims.

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The Liberals have consistently ramped up Canada’s permanent immigration target, with the number set to hit 500,000 in 2025. Trudeau said that number is manageable, but there has been explosive growth in non permanent residents including temporary workers and international students.

“A lot of the challenges are because things have happened in other areas than the permanent residents that we’ve welcomed in,” he said.

Canada’s international student numbers rose to nearly 900,000 before Immigration Minister Marc Miller announced a cap for the coming year. Miller has said he is also looking at the temporary foreign worker programs and could “rein in” the number of people it admits.

Trudeau said Canada benefits tremendously from immigration, which is why it is important that they have faith in the system.

“We’re going to always need and benefit from tremendous immigration, but the most important responsibility we have as a federal government is to make sure that Canadians themselves remain strong and positive and confident about immigration because it’s one of the huge advantages we have.”

National Post
rtumilty@postmedia.com

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