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Canada imposes travel requirements for Mexicans to curb flow of asylum seekers

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada will reinstate some visa requirements for Mexican nationals from Thursday to stem the flow of asylum seekers from the Latin American country, the Canadian immigration ministry said.

Mexican citizens who do not hold a U.S. visa or have not had a Canadian visa in the past 10 years will need to apply for a visitor visa before coming to Canada, the immigration ministry said in a statement.

Those with a valid U.S. visa or who had a Canadian visa in the past decade will need to apply for an electronic travel authorization to travel to Canada by air.

The requirements will relieve pressure on Canada's borders, immigration system, housing and social services, the immigration ministry said.

The Mexican government has said that there were alternative measures that could have been put in place and that it "reserves the right to act in reciprocity."

Immigration Minister Marc Miller, speaking to reporters in Ottawa, said he had not received any indication from Mexico.

"Mexico, as a sovereign country, is allowed to take the measures that it wants to take ... however, I have not had any indication that they will be reacting on their end," Miller said

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Liberal government is coming under pressure for its immigration policies because they have exacerbated a housing crunch, and because some services provided by the provinces, like education and healthcare, are struggling to keep up with population growth.

Thursday's announcement comes less than two months after the premier of Quebec, the second most populous of Canada's 10 provinces, urged Ottawa to stem the flow of refugees and to compensate the province for costs.

Asylum claims made by Mexican citizens reached a record high in 2023 and accounted for 17% of all claims made in the year from around the world, according to the immigration ministry.

(Reporting by Ismail Shakil and David Ljunggren in Ottawa and Kylie Madry in Mexico City)