More barriers for Mexican asylum seekers

Atenco.

In light of recent changes in Canada’s immigration policy, refugee claimants from Mexico will now encounter more difficulties obtaining refugee status to stay in the country. In February, Canada’s Immigration Minister Jason Kenney announced that Mexico had been added to the designated countries of origin list, which created a two-tier system for refugee claimants.

Minister Kenney has stated that this change is necessary in order to be able to process “genuine” refugee claims at a faster pace. Yet labeling Mexico a “safe country” has raised concerns among many individuals, primarily due to the widespread violence and drug-related organized crime jeopardizing public safety across the country.

Linda A. Mendoza, an English student at the Immigrant Women’s Centre (IWC), knows firsthand about these difficulties as she seeks refuge from Mexico’s unsafe situation.

Mendoza‘s husband was taken hostage with a ransom demanded for his safe return. “They took my husband, kept him for days. They demanded money and my mother-in-law had to pay,” Mendoza explained.

After Mendoza’s husband was returned safely, the two came to Canada in 2006 and applied for refugee status. Their claim was not approved, however, and in 2008 they applied to stay in Canada under humanitarian and compassionate grounds.

“They took my husband, kept him for days. They demanded money and my mother-in-law had to pay.”

“We were supposed to leave Canada on Jan. 10 and we were told one day before that that our form for the humanitarian and compassionate appeal was accepted,” recalled Mendoza.

The family of Zully P. Gonzalez, another English student at the IWC, also struggled to stay in Canada. “The drug cartels wanted to kill my brother and my sister-in-law,” explained Gonzalez, who came to Hamilton in 2006 seeking asylum. Her brother was a soldier in Mexico who fought against drug-related crime and drug cartels. Because of death threats from cartel members, her brother and sister-in-law moved to Canada in 2010 seeking asylum. But their claim was denied and they were deported to Mexico that same year. “They have to move, they have to change cities because the drug cartels are looking for them,” she said.

With the addition of Mexico to Canada’s designated countries of origin list cases like Mendoza’s will lead to grim endings. Refugee applicants from Mexico are now unable to appeal their claims on humanitarian and compassionate grounds, which allowed her to stay in Canada.

“I don’t know why Canada says Mexico is a safe country. If you watch the news, you see that everyday something happens in Mexico,” she said.

Article By Felicia Rahaman | Photo by Jesus Villaseca Perez

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