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  • Migrant rights activists outside a Canadian jail holding immigration detainees

    Migrant rights activists outside a Canadian jail holding immigration detainees | Photo: End Immigration Detention Network

Canada detained a record number of migrants in a system which "contravenes international standards, [and] increases detainees' exposure to violence."

Canada has detained more migrants from Mexico in the first three months of 2017 than they have annually in each of the past three years, according to a report by Reuters released on Friday.

The Canadian Border Services Agency told Reuters that it arrested and detained 444 Mexican citizens in the first three months of 2017. This is more than the 410 detained in all of 2016, the 351 in 2015, or the 399 in 2014.

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The CBSA would not provide information on the reasons for the detentions but says that it can detain foreign nationals if their identity is unclear, or if the CBSA believes they "pose a threat to public safety" or might not appear for a deportation proceeding.

While like all migrants Mexican nationals require a Visa in order to work or study in Canada, they no longer need a Visa to enter the country.

Despite this, Reuters also found that Mexican nationals are being turned back at the Canadian border in record numbers. More than 313 were denied entry in January 2017, more than the annual totals for each of 2012, 2013 and 2014.

The Reuters report comes as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has tried to present his country as more welcoming to migrants and refugees in contrast to his southern neighbor.

Indeed some migrant rights activists have suggested that Trudeau's misleading Tweet in Jan — where he said Canada would welcome those "fleeing persecution, terror, and war" — has led to a spike in migrants willing to make the dangerous winter-time crossing of the U.S.-Canadian border thinking they will find refuge from the Trump administration's brutal deportation machine.

While this narrative got a boost last month as thousands shared photos of smiling Canadian state police helping a family of Somali refugees fleeing U.S. border agents, the Reuters report confirms a much different reality.

Indeed moments after that family managed to cross into Canada, they were all handcuffed and placed in Canada's increasingly notorious migrant detention system.

A major investigation by the Toronto Star found that migrants detained by the CBSA enter "a system that indefinitely warehouses non-citizens away from public scrutiny in conditions intended for a criminal population."

Canada is one of the few countries in the world which allows for the indefinite jailing of migrants, a system condemned by both the U.N and the Red Cross because, according to the Star report, it, "contravenes international standards, increases the detainees' exposure to violence and could trigger or exacerbate mental illnesses."

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