Biden’s Unlikely Better on Immigration: Canada’s Trudeau

Biden’s Unlikely Better on Immigration: Canada’s Trudeau

With the reimposition of a visa requirement, Prime Minister Trudeau stops Mexicans from becoming instant asylum seekers in Canada.

While President Biden was engaging last week in border-security political theater on the Rio Grande, Canada actually took concrete measures to stem the flow of Mexican asylum seekers. Even Prime Minister Justin Trudeau can act to protect his country’s national interest from out-of-control migration. Meanwhile, the immigration and border policies of the Biden administration are reaching new lows.

Like the United States, Canada is overwhelmed with economic migrants who are exploiting a poorly designed national asylum process. Our northern neighbor’s asylum system is currently at its breaking point with about 144,000 claims filed in 2023. This number might seem modest, even negligible, compared to the backlog the United States is facing, but, in the context of Canada’s population size, the equivalent number for the United States would be well over a million claims. 

Remarkably, Trudeau ordered his government to return to the sensible policy that requires Mexicans to qualify for a Canadian visa before simply buying an airplane ticket, flying to Canada, and filing an asylum claim. 

Trudeau, although rhetorically committed to his own version of open-borderism, is for the moment retreating in the face of political reality. Of the 144,000 asylum claimants in Canada in 2023, some 24,000 were Mexicans. In 2016, the corresponding number of Mexicans was just 260. Even our easy-going neighbors to the north know when enough is enough. 

Trudeau was facing pressure from Canadian conservatives as well as from provincial authorities in Quebec, where his own family is rooted and easy immigration, particularly from the francophone world, has always been encouraged. Quebec province is about as politically conservative as is New York City, but as Mayor Eric Adams has discovered, basic common sense is rearing its head everywhere these days—except in the White House.

Even abstract open-border ideology melts in the face of trying to actually accommodate, in winter, tens of thousands of uninvited “newcomers,” who arrive with their elderly parents and children, speaking a different language, adhering to different mores, with limited capacity to work and little financial means. 

Americans are still waiting for Biden to act a la Trudeau as our national crisis spins out of control. Amazingly, after his recent visit to Brownsville, Texas, it seems that the U.S. open-border lobby, whose smiling face is DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, still controls the waning political judgment of our aging 81-year-old president. 

It is noteworthy that Trudeau, unlike Biden, when pressed to act, did not need to whine about lacking authority to control the border. When properly used, something as basic and established as the visa requirement, a simple, time-tested tool to protect national borders, can be put into action—when there is the will to act. 

While imperfect, the visa screening process helps prevent economic migrants from reaching the national territory of a country where poorly conceived asylum laws wait to be exploited. In a statement, the Canadian government explained that the new visa policy “will relieve pressure on Canada’s borders, immigration system, housing and social services.” Imagine that: Canada’s federal government is trying to restrict the entry of foreigners in order to reduce the strain on the country’s housing and social services. 

Curiously, DHS Secretary Mayorkas asked the Canadian government a year ago to reimpose a visa requirement on Mexicans to stop them from entering into the United States by crossing the northern border. Presumably, Mayorkas wanted all Mexicans to instead enter illegally on the U.S. southern border where the secretary had deployed DHS personnel to “manage” them (as opposed to stop them). Canada ignored Mayorkas’s request. A reluctant Trudeau only acted to protect his country’s national interest when he was under domestic political pressure. 

In response to Ottawa’s visa imposition, the Mexican foreign ministry officially “regretted” Canada’s decision and reserved the “right to act in reciprocity.” Mexico’s President Lopez Obrador said he would consider not attending the North American Leaders Summit in Quebec in April if he feels Mexico is not receiving “respectful treatment.”

Like many politicians, AMLO applies a double standard: He roars in opposition if Mexico is deemed an unsafe country for foreign investment and tourism, but he also expects Canada and the United States to grant protective asylum to Mexicans who must seek safety in el Norte. Applying AMLO’s asylum logic, the Canadian and American governments should deploy sophisticated humanitarian operations inside Mexico to identify vulnerable persons, classify them as refugees and get them out.

Under the obsolescent international legal framework that Washington and Ottawa follow, an asylum applicant must reach national territory in order to make a claim in the receiving country. A refugee applicant, on the other hand, is processed basically on the same criteria (e.g., credible fear of harm) outside the territory of the receiving country, and has no right to travel there if his application is turned down.  

While this framework for assisting vulnerable and displaced persons may have made sense in another era, today it is dramatically flawed. It is an illogical system that tries to distinguish between asylees and refugees in a globalized world where people travel and communicate freely across the planet.

Canada accepts thousands and the United States accepts millions of unauthorized foreigners who appear on our territory claiming asylum. Mexicans made up some 24,000 of the Canadian asylum applicants in 2023; the American number of Mexican arrivals is measured in the hundreds of thousands.  

At the same time, of course, neither Canada nor the United States is processing any significant numbers of refugee applicants inside Mexico.  

Thus, when Ottawa’s new policy imposes a visa requirement, Mexicans suddenly do not have an easy chance to reach Canadian territory to file papers as asylum claimants. Immediately, their cases disappear completely; it is politically guaranteed that Ottawa will not set up a refugee center in Mexico to investigate cases and process out those allegedly vulnerable Mexicans who cannot reach Canadian soil. 

Of course, the reality is that Mexico is a very dangerous country. Most conservatives would argue untangling economic migrants from persons facing specific and credible violent threats is almost impossible to do outside Mexico. That is another reason why the international framework with its refugee-asylee distinction makes little sense, even for human-rights activists.  

The United States, because of geography, has no similar easy visa solution like Canada when it comes to Mexicans, but the policy inanity is the same: Since American authorities process very few refugees inside Mexico, because Washington sees no need to do so, why should U.S. policy be unlimited in accepting asylum applicants just because they set foot upon our national territory? 

That is why this international framework of asylees and refugees, put in place with the 1951 U.N. convention and later multilateral agreements, must be overturned and remade. It results in pulling millions of economic migrants to national territories in Europe and North America to give poorly conceived national asylum status.  

Even the Canadians, generous to a fault, still rejected some 60 percent of all their asylum applicants. The Americans deny about 85 percent. Of course, in the U.S. rotten asylum system, some 3 million would-be asylees live in the country awaiting a court date that will only happen years in the future.

It is a daunting situation. All of America’s migratory chaos will require new determined and focused presidential leadership to fix. And right now, Lord help us, President Biden cannot even keep up with Justin Trudeau. 

The post Biden’s Unlikely Better on Immigration: Canada’s Trudeau appeared first on The American Conservative.

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