The Canada Border Services Agency detained more Mexican migrants in the first two months of 2017 than it did in all of 2016, new statistics show.
According to the CBSA, 444 Mexicans had been detained in Canada as of March 9.
In 2016, 410 Mexicans were held by Canadian border officials.
The spike comes immediately after Canada’s federal government lifted its visa requirement for Mexican citizens in December. In January alone, 70 Mexicans made refugee claims upon arriving in Canada.
At that time, Conservative Foreign Affairs critic Peter Kent told CBC News the change was not surprising.
“We anticipated there would be, if not an immediate spike, a surge, and it seems that is what’s happening.”
Many Mexicans looking north have shifted their focus from the United States to Canada as President Donald Trump vows to crack down on America’s undocumented immigrants, about half of whom are Mexican.
Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Minister Ahmed Hussen has said his department is monitoring the situation.
“It would be premature to draw conclusions or to speculate on future policy at this point,” Hussen’s spokeswoman, Camielle Edwards, told Reuters in an email Friday evening.
The CBSA can detain foreign nationals if it is believed they pose a danger to the public, if their identity is unclear or if they are deemed unlikely to appear for removal or for a proceeding.
Previously, the largest number of Mexicans detained by the CBSA was in 2012 when 667 people were held.