The president-elect has vowed to deport millions of illegal immigrants from the U.S., and it’s likely some people looking to maintain their lifestyle will attempt to make the move north to Canada.
“For Mexicans who have been there for a long time, gotten used to a better way of living, a better life, if they start feeling the heat from American authorities rather than head south they may very well decide to head north,” said immigration lawyer Guidy Mamann.
Trump previously vowed to deport 11 million people living illegally in the U.S.; in the days since his election victory he estimated two or three million would be expelled.
“What we are going to do is get the people that are criminal and have criminal records, gang members, drug dealers, we have a lot of these people, probably two million, it could be even three million, we are getting them out of our country or we are going to incarcerate,” said Trump in an interview with 60 Minutes.
WATCH: US President-elect Donald Trump recites his promise to build Mexican border wall, deport illegal immigrants
He also stands by his plan to build a physical barrier along the country’s entire border with Mexico.
Human smuggling into Canada certainly occurs, but the number of cases every year is at best a “guesstimate,” said Mamann.
People enter Canada in a many number of ways: by boat from overseas, swimming across rivers from the U.S., or crossing the border on foot.
In 2011, 487 people were apprehended attempting to enter Canada illegally at remote locales, a binational report obtained by the Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act revealed. Those, of course, are just the ones who were caught.
WATCH: What a Donald Trump presidency means for immigration into Canada
Many people living in Canada illegally enter on the premise of a visit and simply never leave.
“That’s probably the bigger number,” Mamann said. “People that come here for a visit and see, ‘oh, hey I can get a job,’ and then just start working and get money.”
Mamann said there’s “no way” the people living illegally in the U.S. will be admitted to Canada should they show up at a crossing. Permanent residents with qualifications could have a chance.
Canada is an attractive place for those without status: Children under 18 will be allowed to attend school, and hospitals will not turn away someone in dire medical need due to their status.
“While it’s a marginalized life, it is far better for many than to return to Mexico.”
Mexicans will no longer need a visa to visit Canada
Trump’s takeover of power comes around the same time that a visa requirement for Mexican visitors to Canada will be lifted. The new agreement, announced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in June, will go into effect starting Dec. 1.
The visa requirement was first imposed due to the large number of asylum seekers from Mexico in Canada.
WATCH: Canada to lift travel visa requirement for Mexican visitors
“A visa is sort of like a pre-screening,” said immigration lawyer Evan Green. “Somebody has looked at the case and said, ‘yes, I feel that this person does qualify to enter Canada.’ Without that, they could certainly show up at the border and make an asylum case.”
Green suggests this could result in Mexican citizens looking to leave their country bypassing the U.S. altogether and booking a plane ticket straight into Canada.
However, last week Global News was told by an executive with the Calgary Mexican-Canadian Cultural Society that geography — and climate– remain obstacles.
“I don’t really see that being the case in Canada,” Carlos Rios said.
“Too far away, too cold…too cold–that’s the main thing.”
No plans to boost immigration staff
A spokesperson for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada told Global News Friday there are no plans to increase department staffing levels in the wake of the U.S. election results.
“There are no current plans to modify staffing levels,” an immigration department spokesperson wrote in an email to Global News.
In a follow-up email Monday, the federal agency said lifting the visa will result in an increase of Mexican tourists and business travellers. Coordination is underway to identify gaps in the system.
WATCH: ‘No current plans’ to increase Canada immigration department staff in wake of U.S. election
“Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is currently working with the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and Mexican officials to lay the groundwork for the visa lift. This will include measures to identify and deter irregular migration at the source; including bolstering cooperation on travel document integrity and traveller screening.”
“Canadian and Mexican officials will meet regularly to take stock of ongoing work in these areas and to monitor migration trends.”
Canada plans to welcome between 280,000 and 320,000 new permanent residents in 2017.
-With files from Erika Tucker