By Joe Guzzardi
October 5, 2016
Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made the bold announcement this summer that, effective December 1, Mexicans will be able to travel to his country without a visa. The official press release noted that the Canadian government has made it a top priority to re-establish and strengthen its relationship with Mexico. Accordingly, Canada will lift the visa requirement for Mexicans which Trudeau hopes “will deepen ties between Canada and Mexico and will increase the flow of travelers, ideas, and businesses between both countries.”
Despite being North American Free Trade Agreement partners, the association between Mexico and Canada often has been contentious. The friction between the two countries dates back to 2009 when then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper, a conservative, imposed tough visa regulations on Mexico. Harper perceived that a growing number of Mexicans were coming to Canada, and fraudulently requesting asylum under the country’s generous refugee program.
Refugee petitioners could stay in Canada for up to two years as they waited for an immigration hearing during which time they had access to the national healthcare system and other welfare benefits. By lifting Harper’s mandatory visa requirement, Trudeau hopes to restore the once friendly Canadian-Mexican relationship.
During a September trip to Canada, I spoke with dozens of Canadians deeply concerned that welcoming all Mexicans could ease the entry of terrorists who might use Mexico as a jumping-off point to the north. Canadians also worry about Trudeau’s seemingly boundless refugee advocacy. Trudeau has promised to resettle 25,000 Syrians within the next two years.
And this June Trudeau pushed a bill through the House of Commons that repealed another Harper-era law that allowed the government to strip Canadian citizenship from foreign-born immigrants convicted of terrorism. The bill also has refugee-friendly provisions that reduced the amount of time newcomers must live in Canada before they can qualify for citizenship from five to three years, and eliminated for many new residents the English or French language requirement.
On my extended Canadian border tour, I spoke with dozens of retired U.S. immigration agents. They’re unanimous in their opinion that when it comes to terrorism dangers, the Canadian border is a bigger challenge than the Mexican one. With Syrians pouring into Canada thanks to Trudeau’s ill-conceived fast-track program, the U.S. is subject to a huge threat. Canadian insiders have stated that its vetting system is often dependent on outdated information and is therefore useless.
Despite the imminent Syrian threat posed from Canada, of 21,000 total U.S. Border Patrol agents on the federal payroll, only 300 are assigned to the northern border. More people are engaged safeguarding the Washington D.C. Capitol complex than the northern border. Vast border sectors hundreds of miles long are unprotected.
Americans want the president kept safe. But it’s telling that President Obama requires a huge, armed police force around the White House yet is unwilling to provide adequate border security for the nation.
A Senior Writing Fellow with Californians for Population Stabilization, Joe can be reached at [email protected]. Find him on Twitter @joeguzzardi19.