- Mexican refugee requests skyrocket
Middle class wants to escape drug cartels, corrupt authorities
By Nicholas Keung, IMMIGRATION/DIVERSITY REPORTER, Toronto Star, August 05, 2007
Manuel Lanveros could have come to Canada through normal immigration channels as a skilled immigrant.
Instead, the Mexican citizen simply hopped on a plane and asked for refugee asylum here because, he says, he couldn't afford to risk his life on the two-year wait.
An architect with 15 years of experience, Lanveros represents a new wave of Mexican refugees who contradict the desperate day-labourer stereotype: educated, upper-middle-class professionals who claim corrupt authorities are failing to protect them from drug cartels, abusive spouses or gay bashers.
According to the Immigration and Refugee Board, Mexican asylum claims have skyrocketed in a decade, from fewer than 1,000 a year to 5,000. For the past two years, Mexico has been Canada's top source country for refugee claims.
With the defeat this spring of a U.S. immigration bill that would have provided a path to citizenship for undocumented migrants â€“ and the increasing hostility of many Americans â€“ observers worry that Mexicans hoping for a safe haven will instead file claims in Canada.
Francisco Rico-Martinez, of the Faithful Companions of Jesus (FCJ) Refugee Centre, says 85 per cent of the advocacy group's clients are now Mexicans. As many as 15 new cases arrive at his door each week.
"My concern is we're going to be swarmed by Mexicans in the U.S. who don't have status there and can come to the border because they don't need a visa to come to Canada," says Rico-Martinez, himself a refugee from El Salvador. "We're starting to get calls from Mexicans in the States, five to six a week, hoping to file refugee (claims) in Canada. But we may not even know half of the Mexicans here who are without status, because they don't need visas to come."
They have a photograph of a refugee claimant saying he's fleeing the homophobia of Mexican society. In 2003 I did a short item that said
[I]tâ€™s worth noting that the immigration authorities are starting to consider Latin American homosexuals as victims of persecution because they are from countries with the same sodomy laws as were in force in every state in the union until 1961, New York until 1980, and in 23 other states until the Lawrence v. Texas decision.
Can we have some kind of moratorium here, where foreign states are given a few years to catch up to the latest liberal ideas promulgated by the Supreme Court?