“Mexicans are more likely today to immigrate to Canada than the US,” say Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin of the Frontera Fund. The number of asylum applications from Mexicans were constantly growing since 2005, but since Canada eliminated the compulsory visa requirements for Mexicans entering the country, it’s become more of a safe haven.
According to Larkin and Lacey, there use to be a considerable amount of Mexican asylum seekers, and the numbers nearly tripled between 2005 and 2009, but almost 98 percent of the requests were rejected or withdrawn.
This was due to the long wait time to hear applications, and many people had no refugee claim. They just didn’t fit the guidelines for refugee status. The refugee definition is very limited, and very specific.
Even those granted asylum in Canada had to wait a minimum of six months to obtain a work permit. It seems the Canadian system just wasn’t able to meet the demands of a surge of migrants entering the country. “We know there are many violations of human rights in Mexico,” says Michael Lacey. Although people have a good reason to escape Mexico, its that definition of refugee that often halts acceptance into a country.
“Now, with the Canadian government’s decision to lift the visa requirements for Mexicans, it’s an easier journey to settle in the country,” said Jim Larkin.
Obstacle of a Work Permit
It would appear that a work permit should be easy to obtain, right? Well, it isn’t that easy. Canadian employers can provide a work permit once they agree that they cannot find a Canadian citizen with a skill set they need. Only then can they issue a work permit to a foreigner. “It can be a catch-22 for Mexicans migrating to Canada,” says Larkin and Lacey.
Most people would think securing a job before moving to Canada is a great decision, even more logical than moving then seeking employment, but it’s not the right move for Mexicans. Mexicans must enter the country as tourist, then seek a work permit, but even so, Mexicans have a far better chance entering Canada legally than the fear of being deported from the US.
Michael and Jim created the Frontera Fund to help empower individuals and explore ways to help them fight for their fundamental rights.
Their efforts have gained support from a vast number of organizations, leaders, and communities across the US. Larkin and Lacey and play a unique role in understanding the struggle to protect civil rights. Both men were arrested in Arizona by the infamous former Sheriff Joe Arpaio, and required to fight for their rights.
They won a court settlement for $3.7 million dollars in 2013, which spearheaded the launch of the Frontera Fund. The organization partners with local community and grassroots organizations to mobilize volunteers and advocate support for the vulnerable.