The Reagan administration has proposed doubling the number of legal immigrants to the United States from Canada and Mexico, to 40,000 a year each.
The current worldwide immigration ceiling is 270,000 per year - including 20, 000 each from Canada and Mexico. With the doubling of those two quotas, the total ceiling would rise to 310,000.
Alan Nelson, deputy commissioner of the Justice Department's Immigration and Naturalization Service, said the net addition of 40,000 will not add significantly to the 550,000 immigrants and refugees expected to enter the US this year.
Assistant Secretary of State Diego Asencio said the proposals for Mexico and Canada ''reflect our close relationships with both while providing an additional opportunity to reduce or deter illegal immigration by opening a supplementary channel for legal immigration to the United States.''
As explained by Mr. Asencio, the higher quotas for the two countries would definitely benefit Mexico, because if either of the two countries does not use all of its 40,000 quota, the unused portion goes automatically to the other country.
Asencio told reporters that only an estimated 15,000 Canadians would emigrate to the US, which means the remaining 25,000 openings will be available to Mexicans.