The times, they are a changin’

Windsor Star, Sept. 24, 2007:

With at least 25 new arrivals from Florida’s illegal immigrant population claiming refugee status at the Windsor/Detroit border over the weekend, local politicians are stepping up the campaign to have the federal government take action to stem the flow.

Federal New Democrat MPs and local Liberal members of the provincial legislature have added their voices to a chorus led by Mayor Eddie Francis, demanding the Conservative government do something about the sudden influx of hundreds of Mexicans claiming refugee status here….

MPs Joe Comartin (NDP — Windsor-Tecumseh) and Brian Masse (NDP — Windsor West) have written a letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, federal Minister of Immigration Dianne Finley and Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Bernier, asking that the government take action to help the city with the financial strain of hosting the claimants.

In addition, they are requesting the Department of Foreign Affairs meet with U.S. authorities to demand action be taken to discourage the northern migration, through a public information, advertising and media blitz aimed at correcting misleading information among illegal aliens in the U.S. that Canada is open to them.

“We’re supposed to be good neighbours,” said Comartin, referring to apparent U.S. indifference to the situation. “They scream about us being lax about security on our side. It’s hypocritical to not try and prevent people from leaving the U.S. with no rights to status in Canada.”

NDP communiqué, today:

OTTAWA – The number of Mexican tourists visiting Canada in May dropped by 25 percent from a year earlier, an alarming decline that will only accelerate because of the new visa requirements imposed this week, said New Democrat Industry and Border Critic Brian Masse.

“Mexicans spend over $300 million a year in Canada, and yet this government chose the height of tourist season to impose new rules on Mexican visitors,” said Mr. Masse. “Mexico one of the top six countries whose residents vacation in Canada. This is yet another example of how the Harper Conservatives have failed to help the struggling tourism industry in Canada.”

Masse and Comartin’s 2007 letter to the prime minister, which was provided to me by a government source, said the influx of “hundreds and potentially thousands of Mexican nationals” making refugee claims “has the potential to become a nation-wide problem at all border crossings.” Masse and Comartin said it was “crucial that in cooperation with American authorities that the Canadian goverment conveys the message that Mexican economic refugees will not be allowed to stay in Canada.” It did not call for visa requirements for all Mexican visitors. Still, the tone — outrage in every circumstance — is familiar.