Donald Trump’s been president for a week, but in those seven days he’s already signed a dozen or so executive orders and memorandums that will fundamentally change relations with his nearest neighbours for years to come.
With a single stroke of his pen Wednesday Trump began reshaping U.S. immigration policy, kick-starting his plans to build a wall on the border with Mexico while cutting off federal funding to cities — including some close to the Canadian border — that have been refusing to detain undocumented immigrants.
The target, of course, is Mexico.
But Stephanie Carvin, a former national security analyst with the Canadian government who now teaches at Carleton University, says those decisions represent a serious challenge for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
“We are going to have to reassure the Americans that our vetting process for immigrants and refugees is consistent with their own so that there’s no issue about security,” Carvin said.
Canada lifted its visa requirement for Mexican travellers in 2016, but said the decision would be revisited if refugee claims rose to 3,500 a year. Carvin says it’s not unreasonable to expect that threshold will be reached this year with the changes Trump’s initiated.
At a stop in Winnipeg Thursday, the prime minister was asked for his take on the U.S./Mexico situation, and how Canada would respond if there’s an increase in refugee claimants.
“Canada has its policy on refugees and immigration,” he said. “We set out the approach, which is open and rigorous and making sure processes are followed and security is strongly addressed and respected.”
Agustin Barrios Gomez, a former Mexican congressman and founder of the Mexican Council on Foreign Relations think-tank, says Trudeau has to stand up to Trump.
“The only documented case of a terrorist trying to enter the U.S. via a land border was on the Canadian side, not the Mexican side, so it’s just a matter of time — he will find an excuse to turn on Canada,” Gomez said in an interview this week with Rosemary Barton on CBC’s Power & Politics.
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