Immigration Canada announced yesterday that ever since Canada lifted Visa requirements for Mexicans and Czech Republic’s citizens in 2007, thousands have arrived at airports and are claiming refugee status in Canada, and now there is a huge uproar and anger at the Canadian government because everything is about to change. Now, citizens from the two counties will need visa’s to visit Canada.
There was a blowback from the Czech Republic.
Too bad soo sad.
Newsflash!!! Visiting a country is not a right, it’s a privilege. Just like driving car among other things.
Why wouldn’t one seek refugee status in Canada? As soon as you file an application you automatically receive Welfare until the hearing and outcome. Thanx to the Canadian taxpayers. And only %10 of the refugee applications are approved.
Anytime you travel from overseas into Canada, Immigration is waiting at the door of the airplane to look at traveler’s passports. Gee, I wonder why!
GO TO THE USA if you don’t like it!
OTTAWA – The Czech Republic’s ambassador to Canada planned to leave the country today, partly in protest and partly to plot his country’s reaction to new visa restrictions on Czech visitors to Canada, the embassy in Ottawa said.
Ambassador Karel Zebrakovsky planned to leave less than 24 hours after Immigration Minister Jason Kenney announced the federal government will attempt to stop what it sees as an unacceptable number of refugee claimants from both the Czech Republic and Mexico with new visa requirements that go into effect at midnight tomorrow.
In Prague, where Canadian officials think thousands of the Roma minority have been launching fraudulent refugee claims, the reaction was fierce.
Czech Prime Minister Jan Fischer branded the restrictions a “unilateral and unfriendly step.” He was speaking after an emergency government meeting to discuss the new visa requirements, Reuters reported.
“Obviously this is a concern for the Czech Republic,” said an embassy spokesperson in Ottawa.
There have been nearly 3,000 Czech asylum bids since visa requirements were dropped in 2007. In 2006 there were less than five such applications, the immigration department said in a release announcing the decision.
Prime Minister Fischer said the Czech ambassador in Ottawa would be returning to Prague for consultations.
In retaliation, the Czech government will require Canadian diplomats and civil servants to obtain visas before entering the country on official business, he said. But Prague is powerless to place visa requirements on all Canadian visitors to the country because it is a member of the European Union and must harmonize immigration policies with all of the 27 member countries.
Czech diplomats will also begin raising the Canadian visa problems with the European Commission in a bid to reach a mutually agreeable resolution.
The country’s consul general in Toronto, Richard Krpac, said Canada’s decision may force tourists to look elsewhere when planning their vacations, such as the United States where there are no visa hassles.
Refugee advocates slammed the decision, saying it would block people who are fleeing life-threatening situations in both Mexico and the Czech Republic. Human rights organizations continue to document persecution and systemic discrimination of the Roma minority in the Czech Republic.
Geraldine MacDonald, president of the Refugee Lawyers Association, said the government has been slow to fill vacancies on the Immigration and Refugee Board, making it the real architect of an application backlog.
“To take this action against these two countries specifically on the grounds that there is a high volume of refugee claims from these countries is contrary to the human rights principles and sense of justice that Canada stands for,” MacDonald said in a statement.
The restrictions on Mexican visitors to Canada could have even greater economic ramifications.
Mexico was the sixth largest source of tourists to Canada last year, and the numbers had been steadily increasing. However, Mexican asylum claims make up one quarter of all applications that Canada receives, the government says.
A Canadian Tourism Commission website geared toward Mexicans, called “Escape from the Routine,” was still boasting that a “valid passport and return plane ticket is all you need” to visit Canada.
The tourism industry is urging the federal government to delay the visa requirement for Mexican visitors until Nov. 15.
“What really hurts about this is that there’s was no warning at all … and all of a sudden, basically the day the doors were supposed to open on the beginning of the peak season, they’re being shut in our face a little bit,” said Hume Rogers, of Ottawa’s Capital Hotel and Suites.
A group of hotels, restaurants and tour operators from Ontario and Quebec that rely on business with Mexico said the government’s move came without advance warning and in the middle of a recession.
“This has blindsided our industry,” Rogers said.
Rogers had 25 rooms booked for 10 days this month with a Mexican tour group.
Carlo Dade, executive director of the Canadian Foundation for the Americas, said the government’s decision didn’t offer any exceptions for the growing number of Mexican business travellers, or the possibility of a program to pre-clear frequent visitors such as that which Canada has with the U.S.
In Mexico City, people with plans to visit Canadian cities this summer flooded the Canadian embassy and their travel agent with calls, trying to figure out what they needed to do to get their documents on time. A 48-hour grace period for Mexicans with imminent travel was to expire at 10 p.m. ET Tuesday.
A source with the Mexican government said the embassy had given little information or guidance to people on what steps were required or how long the process would take. A notice on the embassy’s website directs travellers to send their documents by courier to the embassy.
Carla Rosa, director of GrupoTravel’s head office in Mexico City, said people are reluctant to give their documents to a third party for transport, and are showing up at the embassy anyway.
“It’s a mess,” said Rosa, who said many people will lose their money.
A government spokesperson said things are actually running smoothly at the embassy in Mexico, with line-ups in “the low hundreds.”
One line at the embassy has been arranged to hand out information kits and applications, and the other for those with completed applications and the new $85 fee. People in emergency situations are being given priority.
With files from Richard Brennan and The Canadian Press